Odisha Elections 2024: No More Sympathy Wave, Litmus Test For BJD’s Jharsuguda MLA Candidate Dipali Das Tomorrow

OB Bureau

Jharsuguda: With tough competition from BJP and Congress playing the vote splitter, for BJD’s MLA candidate Dipali Das winning the Jharsuguda seat this time may not be a cakewalk as it was last year when she won the byelection.

When Dipali won the byelection by defeating BJP’s Tankadhara Tripathy by over 48,000 votes in May last year, her father Naba Kishore Das’ murder in broad daylight on January 29 was fresh in people’s minds. Dipali and BJD did not have much to do to garner people’s sympathy vote. But the fight this time may not be easy with BJD’s anti-incumbency and Modi-wave strong in western Odisha.

Like BJD, BJP has once again fielded Tankadhara from the seat while Congress chose former chief minister Hemananda Biswal’s daughter Amita Biswal. Amita fought the Assembly elections from Sundargarh in 2019 and had lost. This time she is fighting from Jharsuguda.

If Dipali’s father Naba Das won the Jharsuguda seat thrice, twice with Congress and once with BJD ticket, Amita’s father had won six times from Laikera, which is a part of Jharsuguda constituency now, with Congress ticket. But after Naba Das switched to BJD, Congress has become inactive in the constituency and so Amita’s success does not seem to be a reality even though she is going door-to-door asking for votes.

Congress may only play the role of a vote divider, but the real fight would be between BJP’s Tankadhara and BJD’s Dipali. Both have the strong support of their senior leaders and are using star campaigners to persuade people to vote for them.

If V K Pandian has urged people to vote for Dipali and Bollywood stars Bhagyashree and Neel Nitin Mukesh have held roadshows for her, many BJP heavyweights including Om Birla, Dharmendra Pradhan and also senior BJP leaders from neighbouring Chhattisgarh campaigned for Tankadhara.

The BJP candidate has been persuading people to vote for him pointing at BJD’s incompetency and apathy towards resolving local issues. He alleges the absence of locals in industries and government colleges of the constituency. For BJP and Tankadhara, a double-engine government is the only solution of locals woe.

Jharsuguda, which had been Naba Das’ fort, constantly saw Dipali on the ground after his death. But public memory is short and she may no more gain the sympathy votes she had garnered last time.

Dipali will face the litmus test on Monday as Jharsuguda goes to polls.

OB Bureau

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