Odisha Elections 2024: Will Abhimanyu Be Able To Break BJD’s ‘Chakravyuh’ In Bhadrak?

Bhadrak: A BJD stronghold since its formation, Bhadrak Lok Sabha constituency is bracing towards a three-way fight with BJP’s Abhimanyu Sethi emerging stronger while BJD’s Manjulata Mandal and Congress’ Ananta Prasad Sethi just as effective.

Bhadrak has been BJD’s fort since inception of the party. Arjun Charan Sethi, BJD’s Lok Sabha candidate then did not lose a single election from 1998 to 2014. He had won in 1971 and 1980 with a Congress ticket and in 1991 as a Janata Dal candidate. But in 2019, he was denied a ticket by BJD as the party nominated Manjulata. Sethi joined BJP and his son Abhimanyu Sethi gave Manjulata a very good fight though he lost the elections. This time again both Manjulata and Abhimanyu are locking horns while Congress has fielded party veteran Ananta Sethi.

The Key Is With Congress

Though Bhadrak has geared up for a three-way fight, the contest could mainly be between BJD’s Manjulata and BJP’s Abhimanyu. But Congress has made the game interesting by fielding its former MP Anant Sethi. He had won the seat in 1984 and in the 2019 elections, his daughter Madhumita Sethi got 2,00,7000 votes. She was in the third position. This time the veteran leader is himself contesting and has his own vote bank and support base. The Congress’ votes may increase and bring down the votes of the other two parties.

Abhimanyu May Break BJD’s Chakravyuh

Manjulata had defeated Abhimanyu by a slim margin of 29,000 votes in the last elections. This time, Abhimanyu may avenge the defeat and emerge stronger in the constituency. His father Arjun Sethi’s legacy, the Modi wave and BJD’s anti-incumbency may go in his favour. Despite winning from the constituency for decades, Bhadrak has not gained much from the BJD’s governance. Various problems including education and health plague the area. Abhimanyu is thus trying hard to persuade people to vote for him to gain from Modi’s guarantees. He also has the support of BJP central leadership. But BJD too is trying to convince people with its development agenda.

Rebels May Spoil

Differences within the party and some leaders switching parties may play the spoilsport for BJD. Denied a ticket, Soro MLA Parshuram Dhada left the party and joined BJP. He is now the saffron party’s candidate from Soro Assembly constituency which is a part of Bhadrak Lok Sabha constituency. The two-time MLA has now become a challenge for the party. Similarly, Simulia MLA Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi had also quit BJD after he was denied a ticket. He was convinced and brought back into the fold within 24 hours of resigning but his support to the BJD Lok Sabha candidate is doubtful.

Vidhan Sabha Equations

Bhadrak Lok Sabha Constituency comprises Bhadrak, Dhamnagar, Bhandaripokhari, Chandabali, Basudebpur and also Soro and Simulia Assembly constituencies of Balasore. While the Dhamnagar seat has been with BJP, the remaining six assembly seats have been with BJD. But this time it may not be so. BJD has fielded Prafulla Samal, who won from Bhandaripokhari in the last three elections, from Bhadrak this time. Similarly, Sanjib Kumar Mallik, who won from Bhadrak last time, is contesting from Bhandaripokhari. Asit Patnaik, son of former minister Kishore Patnaik who was aspiring for a ticket from Bhadrak and was denied, quit BJD and is contesting on a Congress ticket. He to some extent may play the BJD vote-splitter role.

BJP state president Manmohan Samal is contesting from Chandbali while Congress heavyweight Niranjan Patnaik is contesting from Bhandaripokhari. These veteran leaders fighting from different Assembly constituencies of Bhadrak would change the Lok Sabha equation also.

While BJD is making vigorous efforts to defend its fort, BJP is strategising to defeat the regional party and capture the seat. Bhadrak Lok Sabha seat is going to see a tougher fight this time.


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