First phase polls in Odisha: Fate of 5 top Cong leaders to be sealed tomorrow; stakes also high for BJD, BJP

Bhubaneswar: Stakes are high for the three major political parties in Odisha as four Lok Sabha and 28 Assembly segments will go for polls tomorrow (May 13).

Over 62 lakh voters will exercise their franchise in the first phase Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state.

At least five top Congress leaders in Odisha will try their luck in the first phase polls. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Sarat Pattanayak is contesting the polls from Nuapada Assembly segment under Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency.

Pattanayak has been pitted against sitting MLA and BJD nominee Rajendra Dholakia and BJP candidate Abhinandan Kumar Panda, the son of Kalahandi MP Basanta Panda.

The voters of Narla Assembly segment under the same Lok Sabha seat will decide the fate of Former Union Minister and OPCC campaign committee chief Bhakta Charan Das, who is fighting the Assembly polls in Odisha after at least three decades.

Das has been pitted against Manorama Pradhan of BJD and Anirudhha Pradhan of BJP.

Saptagiri Ulaka, the lone Congress Lok Sabha MP from Odisha, will seek re-election from Koraput seat. The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has picked Kausalya Hikaka, wife of former MP Jhina Hikaka while the BJP has fielded Kaleram Majhi from the constituency.

Four-time MLA and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) deputy leader in Odisha Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati is seeking re-election from Jeypore constituency in Koraput district. The BJD has given ticket to Indira Nanda, the wife of former minister Rabi Nanda while the BJP has picked Goutam Samantaray from Jeypore for 2024 polls.

Bureaucrat-turned-politician Bijay Patnaik will seek people’s mandate from Paralakhemundi Assembly seat under Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency. Patnaik, a former Chief Secretary in Odisha, has been pitted against Rupesh Panigrahi of BJD and K. Narayan Rao of BJP.

The electoral victory in Berhampur Lok Sabha seat has apparently become a prestige issue for the ruling BJD and Opposition BJP.

Former minister Pradeep Panigrahi, who was once a close aide of BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, is now fighting the Lok Sabha polls from Berhampur seat on a BJP ticket.

The BJD has fielded Bhrugu Baxipatra, the son of former minister Harish Chandra Baxipatra, from Berhampur. Bhrugu got the BJD nomination soon after he joined the ruling party after quitting the BJP in Odisha.

The voters of Nabarangpur Lok Sabha segment will decide the fate of former MP Pradeep Majhi, who is now contesting the polls on a BJD ticket. Majhi had shifted his allegiance to BJD from Congress a few years ago.

Pradeep is facing a tough fight from Balabhadra Majhi of BJP and Bhujabal Majhi of Congress from Nabarangpur.

This apart, the voters will also decide the fate of former MP Ramesh Chandra Majhi, who is now contesting the Assembly polls from Jharigaon seat.

Similarly, former minister and BJD leader Dibya Shankar Mishra (Junagarh), actor-turned-politician and former MP Siddhant Mohapatra (Digapahandi), Bikram Panda (Gopalpur) and minister Usha Devi’s son Chinmayananda Srirup Deb (Chikiti) are in the fray for the first phase polls in Odisha.

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