Whom will Kandhamal vote for this time?

By Subrat Das*

Bhubaneswar: Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, which has not seen a single person being elected for the second term, is witnessing a curious contest this time. The two prominent parties – BJD and BJP – have imported outsiders. On the other hand, though Congress has fielded a ‘son of the soil’, he is not a heavyweight like his two rivals.

Ruling Biju Janata Dal has drafted well known social activist and educationist Dr Achyut Samant, replacing sitting MP Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh, while Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded former Balasore MP Mahameghabahan Aira Kharabela Swain, who has returned to the party recently. Congress has chosen Manoj Acharya, a councillor of Baliguda Notified Area Council.

The parliamentary constituency, which is composed of seven assembly segments located in three adjacent districts of Kandhamal, Ganjam and Nayagarh, bears a heterogeneous character. So a well known face across the state is needed to win this complex seat, opine Biju Janata Dal leaders. That’s why the party has picked up Dr Achyut Samant, a well known face across the state and outside, said a BJD leader on the condition of anonymity. Dr Samant has founded a residential tribal educational institute named as Kalinga Institute of Social Science, a technical university Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and a medical college Kalinga Institute of Medical Science (KIMS). Dr Samant enjoys considerable clout among tribals as he has accommodated 25,000 tribal students in the KISS educational institute free of cost.

On the other hand, Bharatiya Janata Party, which has never secured electoral victory from this parliamentary seat, has fielded former MP, Kharabela Swain, who has returned to the party after heading regional party Utkal Bharat for around a decade. “I had thought that I will lose as am an outsider. But the response from the people of Kandhamal is quite encouraging and I am sure I will win the seat”, said Swain.

Swain, who is known for his simple living and forthrightness, relies on the welfare activities by the Sangh Parivar and its various organs in the region for last few decades. “We mean Sangh Parivar is BJP here”, said Swain.

Congress candidate Manoj Acharya said, “I will do justice to the people of Kandhamal as I am a local. They (BJD and BJP candidates) are migratory birds”.



The writer is a journalist currently working with Sambad Group as Consultant Editor of Group Digital Edition.


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