Cuttack: Political parties are now making all-out efforts to win Mahanga Assembly constituency that would go to the polls April 29.
Although 10 candidates are in the fray for Mahanga seat that comes under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency, political observers feel that there would be triangular contest among the nominees of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to win the Assembly segment.
The BJD has re-nominated Health minister Pratap Jena to contest from the seat for 2019 Assembly polls. Jena had won the segment twice consecutively.
The Congress party has fielded Debendra Sahu from Mahanaga while the BJP has picked Sarada Pradhan to fight the 2019 elections from the segment. Pradhan, as an independent nominee, had managed to secure the second position in 2014 Assembly elections.
It is learnt that the candidates of all three major political parties are facing dissent from their own rank and files in the segment.
According to political observers, BJD nominee Pratap Jena is facing anti-incumbency in the 2019 polls. Moreover, tussle among some activists of the regional party is also causing troubles for Jena. “The Sarpanches and members of Panchayat Samitis, affiliated to BJD, have been in collision course. BJD Zilla Parishad members from Mahanga have also problems with sarpanches. Jena is trying his best to settle quarrels among BJD activists,” said a political observer.
When contacted, Jena claimed that there is no dissension within BJD in Mahanga. “We have settled all issues amongst ourselves. Now, BJD workers are working for party’s victory. The BJD would retain Mahanga segment. The Congress and BJP are fighting to secure the second position in 2019 polls,” Jena asserted.
According to sources, Congress party nominee Debendra Sahu is facing non-cooperation from the supporters of former minister Sheikh Matlub Alli, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 polls from Mahanga.
Many supporters of Matlub Alli believe that Sahu had not supported the former minister whole-heartedly in 2014 polls. Though Matlub Alli has retired from politics, his staunch loyalist Pradipta Kishore Das was in the race for Congress ticket from Mahanga seat in 2019 polls. However, the Congress leadership has chosen Sahu to contest the polls.
“Congress workers who are loyal to Matlub Alli may create trouble for Sahu. Pradipta Das may not work for Sahu whole-heartedly,” said a source.
When contacted, Das said he is now campaigning for Congress party’s nominee for Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat. “The Congress organisation is quite strong in Mahanga,” Das added.
Sahu, however, rejected the reports that there was any dissension within the Congress party in Mahanga. “The Congress party is united in this segment. I am receiving overwhelming support from Congress workers and common people. We will win Mahanga Assembly seat and Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat in the upcoming polls,” he said.
The situation is in no way better in Mahanga BJP. The saffron party leadership has given ticket to Sarada Pradhan by overlooking the claims of many BJP leaders. However, many BJP activists are found reluctant to accept Pradhan’s candidature. BJP leader Choudhury Pravat Keshari Mishra, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Assembly polls from Mahanga, may queer Pradhan’s pitch in 2019 polls, said a political observer.
Mishra was in the race for BJP ticket from the segment in this election. However, the BJP leadership kept faith in Pradhan, who had contested the 2014 polls as an independent nominee. “I am very much in BJP and now campaigning for our party candidate for Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat,” Mishra said.
Responding to a query on Pradhan’s poll prospect, Mishra said the BJP organisation is in good shape in Mahanga.
Pradhan, however, claimed that he had not lobbied for BJP ticket. “I had made it clear that I would support BJP nominee in 2019 polls. The party leadership has chosen me voluntarily. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity would fetch votes for BJP,” he said.