By Subrat Das*
Khandapara: Khandapara assembly seat is this time witnessing fight between two old contestants, of course from two different platforms. But the contest has virtually been reduced to an one-sided fight.
BJD Rajya Sabha member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who is well acquainted with this constituency for last two decades, is contesting this time on BJD ticket. Patnaik had narrowly lost the seat in 2014 by a slender margin of 601 votes to BJD candidate Anubhav Patnaik. But this time Soumya Ranjan was chosen by the party supremo Naveen Patnaik in place of Anubhav to fulfil his unfulfilled dream. “I had chosen Khandapara as my work place ever since I became Bhubaneswar MP in 1996. But unfortunately, people of Khandapara have not chosen me as their representative though I fought 2009 and 2014 assembly elections. I hope this time people will give me the opportunity to serve them”, said Patnaik on the run up to the polls.
“Last time, Soumya Babu had fought on pot symbol from his Ama Odisha Party. My parents had voted for him. But I had voted Anubhav Patnaik on conch symbol, But this time there is no such dilemma”, said Pabitra Kumar Swain, a young voter from Bhapur area.
Former Bhubaneswar MP, Soumya Ranjan had got acquainted with Khandapara ever since 1996 as it was a part of Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency then. Later, he was directly associated with this assembly segment as he fought 2009 and 2014 elections. But the success eluded him twice in the past. But he has not given up.
This time, BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik has chosen as the party candidate from Khandapara in place of the sitting MLA Anubhav Patnaik. Anubhav, who was the proposer of Soumya Ranjan, has been actively campaigning for him.
Interestingly, former BJD MLA Siddharth Sekhar Singh, who had defeated Soumya Ranjan in 2009, is this time contesting on BJP ticket. “ But I believe, Lotus symbol is not that popular in our constituency’, said another voter Ramesh Pradhan.
It may be noted that Bijoylaxmi Patnaik, who had won the seat in 2000 on BJD ticket and in 2004 as independent candidate, had finished poor third by securing 3332 votes. BJP candidate Siba Prasad Bhanja had polled only 3895 votes in 2014 elections.
The presence of Congress nominee Basant Moharana, a new face, was not visible in the entire constituency. Though influence of independent Dusmanta Swain was felt, it was found restricted to limited area.
The writer is a journalist currently working with Sambad Group as Consultant Editor of Group Digital Edition.