Kendrapara: Will the Congress create history this time by winning the anti–Congress bastion of Kendrapara in Lok Sabha polls which the party had won six decades back? Will the Modi wave work for the BJP candidate or will it be a cakewalk for the BJD in the 17th Lok Sabha polls?
Veteran Congress leader Nityananda Kanungo is the only person who had won the Kendrapara LS seat way back in 1952. Later, Kendrapara became a bastion for anti-Congress parties.
Many prominent Congress leaders of the state like Basant Biswal, Bhagabat Mohanty, Surendra Mohanty, Batakrushna Nayak, former Union minister Srikant Jena and Archana Nayak had tried their luck from Kendrapara, but had to taste defeat.
Anti-Congress leaders like Surendranath Dwibedy, Biju Patnaik, Rabi Ray and Pravat Samantaray who had contested against the Congress, managed to win more than twice each from the seat. Even Baijyanta Panda, who was suspended from the BJD, won from this seat twice.
Socialist leader Surendranath Dwibedy won four times consecutively from Kendrapara contesting on a Praja Socialist Party ticket. Dwibedy won in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Parliamentary polls.
Former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik had also won thrice from Kendrapara in the 6th, 7th and 8th Lok Sabha elections by contesting as a Janata Party candidate twice and once from the Bharatiya Lok Dal. Janata Dal leader Rabi Ray was elected twice from Kendrapara in the 9th and 10th Lok Sabha elections.
Former Union minister Srikanta Jena was also elected from Kendrapara in the 11th Lok Sabha elections on a Janata Dal ticket. Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Pravat Samanta Ray was elected from Kendrapara in the 12th and 13th Parliamentary elections.
Archana Nayak who contested the 14th Lok Sabha elections on a BJD ticket won from Kendrapara. Baijyanta Panda won from Kendrapara on a BJD ticket in the 15th and 16thLok Sabha elections.
Anti-Congressism was sowed in Kendrapara by the Praja Socialist Party under the leadership of Surendranath Dwibedy in the 1960s. After PSP became weak, the Janata Dal under Biju Patnaik defeated the Congress in Kendrapara. After his death, the love for Biju Babu remained in Kendrapara, and it continued to be an anti-Congress bastion.
During the 7th general elections in 1980, even though a Congress wave swept across the nation, the voters of Kendrapara elected Biju Patnaik.
In 1984, when the sympathy wave for Rajiv Gandhi swept the nation after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the people of Kendrapara elected Biju Patnaik. Kendrapara has always been a bastion of anti-Congressism.
Baijyanta Panda was expelled from the BJD for anti-party acts, and now several hopefuls are eyeing the BJD ticket to contest from this seat.
The BJD’s district President, Dhruba Sahu, said many hopefuls are in the race for the party ticket in Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat.
Some of the probable BJD candidates here are Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, the former minister-cum-MLA of Mahakalapada, health minister Pratap Jena, BJD general secretary Pramod Sahu, Rajya Sabha MPs Pratap Deb and Anubhav Mohanty, former Kendrapara MLA Sipra Mallick and Bikash Mohapatra, the former PD of DRDA Kendrapara.
Internal squabbles and the inability to project a united front had hit the Congress in the past, but this time it seems the Congress is all set to storm this bastion of its enemies.
Some of the names proposed to the AICC are Dharanidhar Nayak, the Congress candidate who was defeated in Kendrapara last time, veteran Congress leader Bhagabat Prasad Mohanty, DCC President Chinmaya Beura, and Narayan Das.
The BJP is also aiming to give a big blow to the BJD by raising the issue of corruption in the BJD.
Former BJP Lok Sabha candidate Bishnu Das, BJP leader Bhuban Mohan Jena, district BJP President Duryodhan Sahu and BJP leader Umakant Pattnaik are in the race for the BJP ticket in Kendrapara this time.
Suspended BJD MP Baijyanta Panda is also all set to try his luck from Kendrapara as an Independent, and is hoping for Congress support.
But that is not going to happen as the Congress is determined to field its own candidate. “We will help the candidate who is fielded by the Congress and not an Independent,” said Congress leader Chinmaya Beura.
Former Minister Bijay Mohapatra and Dillip Ray may contest the LS polls from Kendrapara although their party affiliations are not clear.