A lot at stake for BJP candidate from Patkura constituency

first_imgWill Odisha’s Patkura Assembly constituency remain a stronghold of the ruling Biju Janata Dal or will the Bharatiya Janata Party spring a surprise with senior leader Bijoy Mohapatra as its nominee? The outcome will have no bearing on the political future of the BJD or the BJP, but will be crucial for Mr. Mohapatra himself.A founder member of the BJD, Mr. Mohapatra has not won any Assembly election since his last win in 1995. It is a question of political survival for the 68-year-old leader who was elected from Patkura four times in 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995, and was a member of Biju Patnaik’s Council of Ministers in his last term.Campaigning endsOften referred to as Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik’s bête noire, Mr. Mohapatra is once again trying his luck from Patkura where polling is scheduled to be held on July 20. The high-voltage campaign in the seat under the Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency came to an end on Thursday evening with the BJD, the BJP and the Congress as main contenders for the seat.All the three parties had engaged 40 star campaigners each to woo the voters in Patkura, where campaigning started more than three months ago when polling was scheduled to be held in the fourth and last phase of the general elections in April this year.The polling in the seat was postponed twice – first due to the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwalla few days before the poll date and subsequently due to Cyclone Fani. When Mr. Mohapatra, Jayanta Mohanty of the Congress and Independents remained in the fray, the BJD fielded Sabitri Agarwalla, widow of Mr. Agarwalla, as its nominee.Mr. Mohapatra, who played a key role in the formation of the BJD as well as seat sharing with the BJP before the 2000 elections, had failed to contest the 2000 polls as the party cancelled his ticket at the last minute. He has lost all elections in subsequent years irrespective of the parties he contested from.In 2001, Mr. Mohapatra had formed the Odisha Gana Parishad, a regional party political party which he later merged with the Nationalist Congress Party. He joined the BJP when the NCP turned an ally of the BJD before 2009 polls. He had quit the BJP in November last year, but returned to the party again before this year’s general election and entered the fray from Patkura.Tough challengeMr. Mohapatra is facing a tough challenge this time too. The Chief Minister has campaigned personally seeking votes for Ms. Agarwalla apart from many of his Ministers and MLAs.last_img