Lok Sabha elections 2019: Direct BJP-BJD fight in phase 3 polls in six seats

The fate of two former police officers, an ex-bureaucrat, a national spokesperson of the BJP, a media baron and the Congress’ Odisha unit chief will be decided as six Lok Sabha and 42 assembly seats poll on Tuesday in the third phase of national elections.

More than 9.2 million people in the six Lok Sabha and 42 assembly constituencies will cast their votes in 10,464 polling booths across the state. There are 61 candidates in the fray in the Lok Sabha seats and 356 candidates in assembly constituencies.

The Lok Sabha seats polling on Tuesday are Bhubaneswar, Puri, Cuttack, Keonjhar, Sambalpur and Dhenkanal.

Read: All you need to know about Lok Sabha elections 2019

The fight in these parliamentary constituencies is directly between the BJP and ruling BJD with the Congress nowhere in the picture. While the BJP seems to have an edge in Bhubaneswar, Dhenkanal and Keonjhar Lok Sabha seats, the BJD seems to be ahead in Cuttack, Puri and Sambalpur.

The scene is similar in almost all the 42 assembly seats except a few ones in Dhenkanal, Keonjhar and Khurda districts.

In the last Lok Sabha election in 2014, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had won all the six Lok Sabha seats and 41 of the 42 assembly seats where polling will be held on Tuesday.

Read: All you need to know about Odisha

In the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat, the most high-profile battle is being fought between the BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi, a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer known for her disciplinarian ways, and the BJD’s Arup Patnaik, the former commissioner of Mumbai Police.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has never won the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat and all its candidates forfeited their security deposits except in 2014 when Prithviraj Harichandan came second on the back of a Modi wave.

But the BJP is pinning hopes on Sarangi, a former joint secretary in the Union rural development ministry and a pretty well-known name in the Odisha capital for her stint as the Commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. She is also noted for her tenure as the secretary of school and mass education department.

Though not a popular name as compared to Sarangi, the BJD hopes Arup Patnaik may ride the popularity of chief minister Naveen Patnaik and the solid vote bank of the party in all the seven assembly constituencies under the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha segment.

In the neighbouring Lok Sabha constituency of Cuttack, a BJD fortress for the last several elections, the BJP is hoping for a win by fielding former DGP of Odisha Police, Prakash Mishra. The soft-spoken Mishra, who was hounded out by the Naveen Patnaik government after the 2014 election, is taking on five-time BJD lawmaker Bhartruhari Mahtab. Though a late entrant to politics, Mishra hopes to turn out to be a giant-killer.

In the coastal Lok Sabha seat of Puri, the fight is essentially between the BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra and BJD candidate Pinaki Mishra, the incumbent MP and a lawyer of Supreme Court. In 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP was a distant third in Puri but BJP’s Patra, a familiar face in the television studios of Delhi, has ensured the buzz around his candidature through the overly dramatic campaign. He has bathed in village ponds, crooned Telugu songs, ate with villagers and carried the image of Lord Jagannath.

The two other most keenly-watched electoral battles in the third phase will be Khandapada assembly constituency in Nayagarh district and Ghasipura assembly segment in Keonjhar district.

While media baron and BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Soumya Ranjan Patnaik is fighting from Khandapada, his elder brother and state Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik is trying his luck against BJD minister Badra Patra from Ghasipura assembly segment.

Soumya Patnaik had narrowly lost the Khandapada seat by just about 601 votes in the 2014 polls and wants to fulfil his dream of becoming an MLA in 2019. But for Niranjan Patnaik, it may be a stiff battle to unseat the BJD’s Patra, who won the 2014 polls by the highest margin in the state.

First Published:
Apr 22, 2019 18:36 IST

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