By Subrat Das*
Bhubaneswar: With three more days to go for polling, Balasore Lok Sabha constituency is agog with campaigning activities by heavyweights of three prominent parties. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed a campaign meeting at Balasore on Tuesday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has campaigned across this coastal district yesterday and undertook a roadshow between Balasore and Baripada last evening. On the other hand, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to come to Balasore tomorrow to campaign for his party candidates.
While BJD sitting MP Rabindra Kumar Jena and senior BJP leader Pratap Chandra Sarangi are contesting again for this parliamentary seat this time, Congress has fielded Nabajyoti Patnaik, a new face. In 2014 elections, Rabindra Kumar Jena had won the seat by defeating his nearest BJP rival Sarangi by 1.43 lakh votes. Former union minister and ex-Balasore MP Srikant Jena had finished third. This time Srikant Jena has been dismissed from Congress for his anti-party activity and Nabajyoti Patnaik, an entrepreneur, is contesting as party candidate. Patnaik, who is getting a warm response from the people, especially the youth masses, is giving a tough fight to the two veterans in the fray. He is campaigning on bicycle.
In 2014 elections, Balasore Lok Sabha constituency had emerged as a BJD stronghold with the party winning the parliamentary seat and also six out of seven assembly segments under it. Only Remuna seat had been won by BJP’s Govardhan Das.
This time, BJD has renominated four sitting MLAs- Industries and Higher Education Minister Ananta Das (Bhograi), Jiban Pradip Dash (Balasore), Nityananda Sahoo (Basta) and Ashwinee Patra (Jaleswar). The ruling party has replaced Santosh Khatua with sitting MLA in Nilgiri Sukanta Nayak. Similarly, the party has fielded Sudhanshu Sekhar Parida in place of Sudarsan Jena in Remuna and Brundaban Das in place of sitting MLA Ganeswar Patra in Badasahi.
However, former minister Raghunath Mohanty, who enjoys clout in Balasore district politics, has switched over to BJP from BJD as he was denied party ticket from Basta assembly segment. Mohanty had resigned from the ministry and later he was replaced by his associate Nityananda Sahoo, after he faced a dowry torture charge levelled by his daughter-in-law Barsa Swony Chaudhury. But speculations were rife that he would get party ticket this time after he was made BJD vice president and appointed as the chairman of Odisha Lift Irrigation Corporation. But he had to be disappointed. He jumped to BJP and is contesting on the saffron party ticket.
Similarly Nilagiri sitting MLA Sukanta Nayak quit BJD after he was denied the party ticket. He joined BJP and was allotted party ticket.
In Jaleswar, former Congress MLA Jay Narayan Mohanty is contesting as BJP candidate. Mahanadi Bachao Andolan leader Sudarshan Das, who had recently joined Congress, is fighting on the party ticket.
The writer is a journalist currently working with Sambad Group as Consultant Editor of Group Digital Edition.