Sambalpur Lok Sabha Seat To Witness Biggest Battle Of 2024 Elections In Odisha!

Bhubaneswar: With BJP-BJD alliance talks coming to naught, Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat is likely to witness the biggest battle of 2024 elections in Odisha.

While Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is almost certain to be the BJP candidate from Sambalpur, there is very high probability of BJD fielding party organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das, popular known as Bobby, from the seat.

The BJD president, Naveen Patnaik, on Sunday reviewed preparations for Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat and its 7 Assembly segments with MLAs, observers and other key party functionaries.

Dharmendra, who is from the town of Talcher in Angul, has already expressed an interest to contest the elections from Odisha. While throwing their weight behind him, BJP legislators from western Odisha had suggested Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency as the safe seat for him. The BJP central leadership also gave a clear indication in this direction by not renominating him to Rajya Sabha.

Dharmendra was elected to the Odisha Assembly in 2000 and to the Lok Sabha from Deogarh Parliamentary seat in 2004, when the BJP was in alliance with BJD. However, he lost the Assembly elections in 2009 after the BJP-BJD alliance broke. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2012 and for a second term in 2018.

Anticipating his candidature, the BJD had appointed appointed Bobby as the observer for the districts of Dhenkanal, Angul, Sambalpur, and Keonjhar as early as March 2023. Later that year, Rajya Sabha member Manas Ranjan Mangaraj was appointed the party’s observer for the Sambalpur parliamentary constituency as speculation about Dharmendra contesting from the seat gathered momentum. While Bobby has been in constant touch with the electorate there, BJD leader and 5T Chairman V K Pandian have been conducting tours and interacting with students and the public to prepare the field for the party’s success in the ensuing election.

During the inauguration of SAMALEI project inauguration on January 27, the BJD also prepared a strategy to launch its campaign in western Odisha. The party leaders were asked to start meeting in each ward, sources said.

On the other hand, the ruling BJD has simultaneously made a strategy to launch its campaign in western Odisha. Therefore, the party organizational secretary Pranab Prakash Das and party observer for Sambalpur Lok sabha seat, Manas Mangraj has been frequently visiting Sambalpur.

Notably, the saffron party had improved its vote share in the parliamentary elections from 22% in 2014 to 38.4% in 2019, winning 8 of 21 seats of which five were in western Odisha districts of Balangir, Sambalpur, Kalahandi, Bargarh, and Sundargarh, its traditional bastions. Nitesh Ganga Deb of BJP had defeated BJP’s Nalini Kanta Pradhan from Sambalpur in 2019 by a slender margin of 9,162 votes. Nagendra Kumar Pradhan of BJD had won the seat in 2014 elections and Amarnath Pradhan of Congress in 2009.

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