Nuapada: The Khariar Assembly constituency (No. 72) is one of the two prominent seats in Nuapada district. This comprises 68 panchayats of Khariar, Boden and Sinapali blocks including 15 wards of the Khariar Notified Area Council.
A look at the geographical area of Khariar constituency reveals that a large part of Khariar, Boden and Sinapali blocks are under forest cover. According to official sources, the total number of voters in this segment is 2, 35, 031. Of which 1, 15, 456 are female and 1,19,556 male and 19 other voters.
Since its inception till the 1980s, it was a Congress bastion and remained under the control of the Khariar royal family. Later, Khariar went into the hands of Duryodhan Majhi in the 1990s. He represented the constituency five times, consecutively.
In the 1990 and 1995 elections, he contested and won on the ticket of the late Biju Patnaik led Janata Dal; in 2000 and 2004 as Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate; and in 2014 on a BJP ticket.
Apart from this, Khariar ruler Anup Singh Deo has represented the Assembly constituency six times and this is a record in itself. The inclination of Khariar people towards the royal family and the Congress ideology has strengthened his position for a long time.
Meanwhile, Hitesh Kumar Bagartti jumped to BJP and won the Khariar Assembly seat in 2009 elections. However, Congress is unable to regain its long held bastion. Keeping in mind the results of the last Assembly elections, Adhiraj Panigrahi of the Congress, who had got second highest number of votes, is in the race for the party ticket.
Analysts are of the view that the political scenario here is not clear as to who will represent which party. As the date for filing of nominations is getting closer, most of the aspirants have set up their camps in the state capital to lobby for tickets.
Apparently, the results of previous Assembly elections have reflected a strange trend that, even if there were grim fights in the past between contending political parties, social vote banks have always impacted the process of electioneering.
According to political analysts, in the Khariar Assembly constituency, the Gond (Majhi) and Yadav vote banks play major roles in deciding the fate of political leaders.
In the last Zilla Parishad elections, the saffron party could not open its account; whereas there was a head-on fight between the BJD and the Congress. Taking the Zilla Parishad election results into account, these two political parties are hoping for victory in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Moreover, in 2009, Hitesh Kumar Bagartti had won the Khariar seat with the support of Yadavs. Similarly, the Gond (Majhi) voters have been of great help to Duryodhan Majhi in making him win this seat five times.
According to sources, the incumbent MLA Duryodhan Majhi may not contest this time, due to his age. He is interested in bringing his son into active politics, his supporters have said. Along with Hitesh Kumar Bagartti, the previous MLA from BJP, president of District Kishan Morcha, Sanjay Kumar Tiwari, who had come to the party with Duryodhan Majhi, is also an aspirant for party ticket.
Coming to Congress, Dev Dev Singh Deo, the grandson of ex-minister Anup Singh Deo, who has created a strong base in this Assembly constituency, is also an aspirant for party ticket. He may get it, say party workers.
In addition to the above names, Pruthviraj Mohanty, who has been piloting the party activities in this area, has also joined the race. It is said that Adhiraj Panigrahi of Congress, who had got is also in the race.
Ahead of all others in BJD, the name of party general secretary Lambodar Nial is on top of the list. His involvement in all the political activities of the party and strong Yadav support are said to be his strengths.
Otherwise, if the party attaches importance to the women reservation issue, then Santoshini Salma, who is the president of the district women’s wing and state council member as well as acting Zilla Parishad member, could be a contender. The ex-chairperson of the Zilla Parishad, Pushpanjali Pandey is also in the poll race.
Results of the 2014 Assembly elections
Party Candidate Votes
BJP Duryodhan Majhi 57,533
Congress Adhiraj Panigrahi 50,407
BJD Lambodar Nial 47,655