Odisha’s Dhamnagar Has Unique History Of Deceased MLAs’ Kin Winning Bypolls

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s Dhamnagar assembly constituency has repeated its unique history of deceased legislators’ kin clinching bypolls with BJP’s Suryabanshi Suraj emerging victorious in the by-election this time.

The agrarian constituency, where by-election was held on November 3 following the demise of sitting BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi on September 19, saw the saffron party fielding his son Suryabanshi Suraj, banking on sympathy votes.

The constituency, where Muslims and farmers have been a deciding factor, had seen two assembly bypolls earlier, in 1961 and 1990. On both occasions, either son or wife of the deceased sitting MLA won the by-elections.

Even as Muslims constitute around 24,000 of the 2,38,417 electorate, Bishnu Sethi had won the seat in the 2019 assembly elections by a margin of 4,625, which locals say shows the “secular nature” of Dhamnagar, the nomenclature of which originates from ‘Dharma’ (religion) and ‘Nagara’ (town).

The first bypoll in the constituency was held in 1961 when the then Congress legislator Muralidhar Jena died and his wife Satyabhama Dei was elected in the by-election that followed.

The second bypoll was held in 1990 when newly elected Dhamnagar MLA Hrudananda Mallick died during the victory procession. His son Manas Ranjan Mallick won the seat.

Now, in the third bypoll, deceased MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi’s son Suraj was the BJP candidate. Suraj won the seat this time defeating Abanti Das of BJD by over 9,881 votes. He has garnered 80,351 votes with his nearest rival and BJD candidate Abanti Das polling 70,470.

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