Odisha Elections 2024: Will Bibhu Tarai Reverse The Trend In Jagatsinghpur?

Jagatsinghpur: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has successfully maintained its supremacy over Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency since 1999. The regional party has won the seat in all elections since then except one in 2009 when it supported Bibhu Prasad Tarai, who had fought the polls on CPI ticket. However, Assembly equations of the Naveen Patnaik-led party gone haywire this time amid widespread resentment among leaders and workers. While many disgruntled leaders are upset after being denied ticket, several rebels have switched to the opposition camp.

While rebels have become a major headache for the ruling BJD, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making all efforts to derive electoral gain from the complex situation.

Old Warriors, New Battle

BJD has renominated sitting MP Rajashree Mallick in Jagatsinghpur, a Parliamentary constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC). In her bid to get re-elected from the seat, she has been highlighting the various welfare and development schemes being implemented by the BJD government. BJD’s robust vote bank, organisational base and Naveen’s image are her main strength. BJP has fielded Bibhu Prasad Tarai, who contested the last three Lok Sabha elections from Jagatsinghpur as candidate of different political parties. He had won in 2009 as a CPI nominee with BJD support, but lost 2014 and 2019 polls fighting on Congress and BJP tickets respectively. This time, Tarai has chalked out a blueprint and is optimistic of victory amid anti-BJD mood in the state and a wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress has fielded Rabindra Sethi. All eyes are set on Rabindra to see how many traditional Congress votes he can manage to secure.

Initially expected to be a fiercely contested battle akin to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, this election will be different with an undercurrent in favour of BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Moreover, Tarai’s grip on the constituency appears stronger than before.

Rebels To Spoil Poll Pitch!

The presence of a large number of rebels has become a major cause of worry for BJD in Jagatsinghpur. After being denied ticket, BJD district president Amarendra Das had resigned from the party and joined BJP. He has been fielded by BJP in Jagatsinghpur Assembly seat, throwing a major challenge for BJD candidate Prashant Muduli. Another group in the faction-ridden BJD had ganged up against Paradip MLA Sambit Routray. The regional party has dropped him and nominated his wife in Paradip. After Sarada Prasanna Jena was made BJD candidate for Balikuda-Erasama Assembly seat, sitting MLA and former Minister Raghunandan Das and his supporters are visibly upset. Similarly, resentment had surfaced among supporters of Surendra Sethi after Minister Tusharkanti Behera was renominated from Kakatpur Assembly seat. Surendra subsequently quit BJD and joined BJP. In the face of rebellion and resentment in the party, retaining the seat may turn out to be an uphill task for Mallick.

Samir’s Entry

After being denied BJD ticket, heavyweight leader and Nimapara MLA Samir Ranjan Das had urged the party to reconsider the decision and even organised huge rallies in a show of strength. As his plea went unheeded, Samir quit BJD and joined BJP in the midst of the twin elections, raising the likelihood of making considerable change in the political configurations in Nimapara. He had won three consecutive Assembly polls from the Assembly seat since 2009. The entry of Samir and his supporters into BJP camp is likely to affect Nimapara Assembly as well as Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha polls.

BJD Miscalculation!

As part of its design to grab Congress votes, BJD inducted Chiranjib Biswal and Bapi Sarkhel’s wife Monideepa into party fold. However, internal tussle has now become a major cause for worry for the regional party as it has been unable to rehabilitate these two imported leaders. On the other hand, stalwarts like Samir Das and Amarendra Das are throwing a big challenge. Besides facing open rebellion from disgruntled leaders, the ruling party is also encountering a feeling of unhappiness in its rank and file in Jagatsinghpur. Therefore, it is going to be a tough fight for the regional party on June 1 polls.

Jagatsinghpur Parliamentary constituency comprises seven assembly segments of Niali, Jagatsinghpur, Paradip, Tirtol, Balikuda-Erasama, Kakatpur and Nimapara. BJD had won all the seven Assembly seats and posted an impressive victory in the Lok Sabha constituency with a huge margin of around two lakh votes in 2019 polls. Party hoping, change of candidates and internal squabbling have made the elections in Jagatsinghpur highly intriguing this time.

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