Women Power: All Eyes On Naveen’s Aska Experiment

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Bhubaneswar: As Aska parliamentary constituency readies for the D-day on Thursday, it’s one of Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik’s biggest political experiments that will be put to test.

Whether his hand-picked nominee Pramilla Bisoi, a grassroots-level woman self-help group worker, makes it to the Lok Sabha will to a good extent possibly impact the future political empowerment of women in Odisha and by extension in India.

Naveen, taking forward his decision to give one-third Lok Sabha tickets to women, has pitched Bisoi, a humble rural woman who would perhaps never dreamt of becoming a parliamentarian, from Aska, from where he made his political debut in 1997.

Political analysts believe it’s a well-calibrated risk by Naveen. And considering that Aska, which consists of Polsara, Kabisuryanagar, Khallikote, Surada, Aska, Sanakhemundi and Hinjili, is a BJD bastion, Bisoi will sail through. Naveen has been representing Hinjili since
2000 and is expected to give Bisoi a big lead from his home turf.

However, unlike 2009 and 2014 the BJD is up for a fight this time. BJP’s Anita Subhadarshini, daughter of former minister and political veteran Ramakrushna Patnaik and former Aska MP Kumudini Patnaik, and CPI’s Ramakrushna Panda, too, are sweating it out in the sweltering heat. While Subhadarshini, thanks to her parents’ influence in areas
like Kodala and Polasara and the Modi factor, is trying her best to take on Bisoi, the CPI nominee, with support from alliance partner Congress, is attempting to achieve something that his party has only once when Dwiti Krushna Panda won in 1971 (it was then known as
Bhanjanagar parliamentary constituency).

Since 1996, Aska has elected Janata Dal (Biju Patnaik) and BJD candidates. Naveen, who has thrice (1997, 1998 and 1999) won Aska Lok Sabha seat, is confident his party would emerge triumphant.”Aska will create history and show the way to the entire country by sending a woman SHG member to parliament and four women to the state assembly,”
he said recently.

Whether Naveen would be proved correct or whether his rivals would have the last laugh shall be decided by Aska’s constituents on Thursday.

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