CHANDBALI: With the announcement of election schedule for the Odisha Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the Chandbali Assembly segment in Bhadrak district is politically as active as any other constituency in the state.
Since the last panchayat elections, the BJP has been posing a tough challenge to the ruling BJD. Byomkesh Ray, the sitting BJD MLA, is an aspirant for another term. Sangram Keshari Ray, Ajay Nayak, Pratap Dhal and Santanu Kumar Mohanty are also in the race for the BJD ticket.
Amiya Mahapatra, Digambar Dash, Satyanand Rout, Manoj Biswal, Jyotiprakash Mohanty and Abhisek Rout are reportedly seeking Congress ticket.
Reports indicate the possibility of Manmohan Samal, who served as revenue minister, getting a BJP ticket is high. Samal’s followers are busy in organisational works here.
The increase in the number of candidates aspiring for tickets has created a headache for the BJD and the Congress here. According to political observers, all parties are chalking out their strategies on the basis of three-tier panchayat election results.
While the BJP is carrying out ‘Mishrana Parva’ (joining spree) and ‘Bijay Sankalpa Abhiyan’, the BJD is swearing by its ‘Ghare Ghare Shankha’ (conch in every home) programme.
For MLA Byomkesh Ray, who took a plunge from student politics to mainstream politics in 2014 and became a legislator, the ongoing in-fighting in the party is said to be posing hurdles.
The incident of damaging vehicles during CM Naveen Patnaik’s Chandbali visit by the followers of former Chandbali block BJD president Pratap Dhal has been a matter of discussion here for quite some time.
Sangram Keshari Rout and Prof Santanu Kumar Mahanty have also started lobbying for tickets. Sangram Rout, head of the Sangram Sena, is also in the race. At the same time, all eyes are on Manmohan Samal’s next course of action.
Most of the BJP leaders have camped at Dhamra to improve the party position at Zone-5 of Dhamra Zilla Parishad.
In 2014 general elections, Congress secured the second position with 43,674 votes. Amiya Mahapatra, who contested twice on Congress ticket and had been defeated, is an aspirant this time as well. Block Congress chairman Digambar Das is also in the race, according to reports.
These two leaders from Dhamra came to limelight after the 2017 panchayat elections by capturing the vice chairman post after striking a pact with the BJD. Digambar Das says, “No visible improvement has taken place in Chandbali during the BJD tenure. I have been demanding employment opportunities to local youths at Dhamra port and various developmental works like a bridge here. So, I am hopeful of getting party ticket.”
On the other hand, BJD MLA Byomkesh said, “The party has done many developmental works like construction of Bhadrak-Chandbali road, making the Chandbali NAC functional, electricity grid and solving the drinking water problem. My leadership will bring further development in the coming days.”
BJD leader Ajay Nayak said, “I have been active in party activities in various capacities. I have also performed well as a party observer. I think I have all the good reasons to be a party candidate.”
Pratap Dhal, another BJD leader, said, “I have been closely associated with the anti-Congress politics. I have had interactions with common people and know their problems better than anyone else. To transform the wishes of common people into reality, I wish to contest the election this time.”
Sangram Keshari Rout said, “I have the support of the people. I have been demanding revenue sub-division status to Chandbali, employment for educated unemployed youths, irrigation and amalgamation of three parts of Chandbali block. So I am an aspirant for BJD ticket.”
Shantanu Kumar Nayak said he wished to be a candidate for securing the overall development of the area.
When asked why he wished to be a candidate, former minister Manmohan Samal said, “I wish to be a candidate for overall development of the region. Though the largest port in Asia is in the Chandbali Assembly constituency, not even a needle factory has been set up here. The state government has forgotten the basic problems the people are facing here like construction of bridge and communication facility. The BJP has been fighting for the cause of the people.”