Odisha polls: Tathagata in for toughest fight of career in Dhenkanal

Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Dhenkanal, April 10:

Sitting Dhenkanal MP Tathagata Satpathy of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is this time facing what is easily the toughest battle of his political career so far. As if the twin challenge from old warhorses Sudhir Samal of the Congress and Rudra Narayan  Pani of the BJP was not enough, the two-time MP now has to contend with his nephew and youth leader Suparno Satpathy of the Ama Odisha Party (AOP).

Tathagata Satpathy
Tathagata Satpathy

The entry of Suparno, who left the Congress to join the AOP recently, has made it a high voltage and truly four cornered contest. He is all set to divide the votes that the family of former Chief Minister Nandini Satpathy has traditionally garnered in the area.

What is also giving sleepless nights to the newspaper baron this time is the resurgence of the BJP, which is, by all accounts, riding a Modi wave in the state. The fact that the coal town of Talcher, which comes under the Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seat, is in Modi’s itinerary during his whistle-stop visit to the state tomorrow gives a measure of the importance the BJP is giving to this parliamentary constituency this time.

On his part, BJP national general secretary Dharmendra Pradhan is leaving no stone unturned making a whirlwind campaign across the constituency since the last two days touching all the seven Assembly constituencies.

Pani himself is focusing on door to door movement instead. He is hopeful of a victory following the Modi wave and his association with people on issues of rehabilitation, resettlement and environment, which affect the people most in this industrially rich area with massive coal deposits.

Congress candidate Samal is also posing challenge to Tathagata. The party is hoping to increase its vote share this time as it has fielded former MLA of Dhenkanal Samal, who has been keeping the Congress house in order since last one and half years Significantly, the vote base  of the Congress had remained more or less intact even after fielding a weak candidate in Chandra Tripathy in the 2009 elections.

Suparno Satpathy
Suparno Satpathy

However, he may face some hurdle in face of rebel of some senior leaders, who had quit the party protesting ticket distribution by the state leadership. Six times MP KP Singhdeo was also ignored.

Apart from a measure of anti-incumbency, Tathagat is also on a sticky wicket this time also because of his alleged non-performance and lack of touch with the grassroots. His task has been made tougher because of the antagonism he is reportedly facing from at least three MLAs of BJD, who are seeking re-election from different Assembly constituencies.

Rajani Kanta Singh, a minister in the Naveen Patnaik government and Angul district president of BJD, three time MLA and Dhenkanal district president Nrusingha Sahu and Mahesh Sahu, BJD’s MLA nominee from Pallahara, are not in the best of terms with Satpathy and this may queer the pitch for the incumbent MP. Besides, in Hindol, former minister and sitting MLA Anjali Behera is openly supporting Congress MP candidate Samal after her expulsion from BJD.

However, Tathagata is trying hard to garner support of KP Singhdeo supporters. According to sources, however, most of the senior leaders, who have resigned from the party, have extended their support to BJP after consultation with BJP general secretary Pradhan.

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