Odisha Elections 2024: Will BJD Old-Timers Back Bhartruhari Mahtab In Cuttack?

Cuttack: A new electoral picture has emerged in Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency this time. The fight will be between veteran leader and sitting MP Bhartruhari Mahtab and new entrant Santrupt Misra. Mahtab, who has won the seat six times under BJD banner, is contesting as a BJP candidate this time after parting ways with the ruling party. BJD has fielded corporate honcho Santrupt Misra, who is fighting his maiden poll battle in Cuttack. Despite being a novice in politics, Santrupt is set to derive enormous strength from BJD’s strong organisational base. On the other hand, Congress has nominated Suresh Mohapatra in the prestigious seat.

Again Bhartruhari?

Ever since its formation, the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD has been maintaining its grip over Cuttack with voters in the constituency reposing faith in Mahtab. Armed with his vast experience as a parliamentarian, Mahtab happens to be a familiar face in Cuttack. However, he was reportedly sidelined in the regional party over the last three years. Finally, Mahtab quit BJD in the run up to the 2024 elections and joined BJP to become its nominee for the Lok Sabha seat. However, people of Cuttack expect him to give a detailed account of works done by him for the constituency during his six terms as an MP. He needs to win people’s trust. Political observers are of the view that Mahtab may derive immense benefit from the prevailing public mood against the state government and Narendra Modi wave sweeping the country.

From Corporate Honcho To Cuttack King!

Santrupt happens to be a new face in Odisha’s political landscape. He has made a foray into politics after saying goodbye to the corporate world. He is reaching out to the people by highlighting various development and welfare programmes being implemented by the BJD government. BJD’s robust organisation is his main strength. The regional party had won all Assembly seats under Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency except Barabati-Cuttack, which was bagged by Congress in 2019 elections. BJD is hopeful of creating new hopes in people by fielding a new face.

Changed Equations

Armed with a strong organisational base in Cuttack, BJD has a number of heavyweight leaders in different Assembly segments of the Parliamentary constituency. While veteran leader Debi Prasad Mishra is holding the fort in Badamba, Renendra Pratap Swain maintains control over Athagarh. However, the ruling BJD is likely to encounter trouble in Khandapada, which was won by Soumya Ranjan Patnaik in 2019 elections. He is no longer in the regional party. BJD old-timers are annoyed after BJD nominated Sabitri Pradhan for the Assembly seat. Similarly, resentment seems to be brewing in party cadre in Barabati-Cuttack where BJD has fielded Prakash Behera in place of Debasish Samantray. Mahtab, on the other hand, fully depends on the network of BJP organisation for votes.

Amit Shah Roadshow

BJP stalwart and Union Home Minister Amit Shah has held a massive roadshow with Mahtab and party’s Barabati-Cuttack MLA candidate Purna Chandra Mohapatra. Shah’s mega roadshow has brought added enthusiasm among BJP workers and leaders who are going all out to bolster the party’s poll prospects in Cuttack. However, no one knows whether all these would attract the voters towards BJP. BJD’s star campaigner V K Pandian is also campaigning in Cuttack. The ruling party’s micro-management may go in Santrupt’s favour. Congress has negligible presence in the Parliamentary constituency, except Barabati-Cuttack. One has to wait and see if marathon campaign by BJP leaders would help Mahtab. No one knows whether the voters would repose faith on Mahtab or give an opportunity to Santrupt.

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