Baliapal: Ten candidates are in the fray for the Basta Assembly seat in Balasore district. Former minister, Raghunath Mohanty, who had resigned from BJD and joined the saffron camp, is contesting as BJP candidate from this constituency. While the ruling BJD has fielded the sitting MLA Nityananda Sahu, Congress has put up the Baliapal block chairman Bijan Kumar Nayak.
Other contestants include new face Nandan Pal (TMC), Mrityunjay Dey (BSP), Saroj Kumar Roul (Aam Aadmi Party), Laxmidhar Giri (Forward Block) and three Independents — Ajaya Kumar Nayak, Manas Das and Sacchindra Das.
The political atmosphere in Basta is heating up day by day, as polling date is getting closer. After Raghunath joined the BJP camp, one faction has left the party in protest. On the other hand, it is believed that a group of BJD dissidents is supporting him. Raghunath is banking on several developmental works that he had carried out during his 24-year-long tenure as BJD legislator.
Outlining his action plan, he said, “No substantial developmental work has been done in Basta Assembly constituency during the past five years. Few works like construction of the Pejagala Setu and establishment of Basta Court which were started before 2014, during my tenure of office, have been done in this period. Development in the region is not up to expectation and I will give priority to developing both Basta and Baliapal.”
BJD candidate Nityananda Sahu said, “In the past five years, many works have been carried out for development of various fields like education, healthcare, road communication, irrigation and drainage, etc. People are happy with the kind of welfare rule of BJD. If I will be given one more chance, certainly I will turn Basta into a model Assembly constituency.”
Congress candidate Bijan Kumar Nayak said, “Whatever developmental works were done in this Assembly constituency, all those were done during the Congress rule. The constituency has gone far behind, during the last 19 years of BJD rule. If I get elected this time, certainly I will give priority to all round development of the Basta Assembly constituency segment.”
The nine new faces, on the other hand, are trying to win over the voters by targeting the three major political parties.
After the restructuring of Assembly constituencies in 2009, 17 panchayats of Basta and 28 panchayats of Baliapal blocks were added to the Basta Assembly constituency. In 2009 and 2014 general elections, the candidates from Basta block have succeeded in acquiring MLA seat. This can be ascribed as an important reason for the inconsistency of development between Basta and Baliapal areas, claim voters of Baliapal. Some of the candidates have prepared their election campaign strategies based upon this issue.
Congress candidate Bijan Nayak is trying hard to strengthen his party position in Basta block and is hopeful of getting the support of voters from Baliapal block.
However, BJP candidate Raghunath Mohanty had the opportunity to represent this Assembly segment for five times as MLA and became a minister twice when he was in BJD. He possesses vast experience in election management. He is hopeful this time to overcome the election hurdles with the support of BJD dissidents and BJP supporters.
The BJD has reposed faith in Niytananda Sahu, who had won the 2014 election by a narrow margin of 6,586 votes, and fielded him again in 2019. Since the BJD has all seven zilla parishad zones of both Basta and Baliapal under its control, Nityananda is trying hard to get the support of party workers. However, the flip-flop politics in the state has created lots of trouble for candidates of major political parties, across Assembly constituencies.
Anuj Kumar Mohapatra, president of a local outfit Baliapal RTI Forum, has said, “The deteriorated condition of roads within this Assembly constituency, increased unemployment, rampant corruption in public offices will be the main issues in this election.”
Similarly, Jitendra Patra, a leading farmer of the Baliapal area, said, “Voters are looking for the resolution of issues pertaining to farming and farmers, in the current 2019 general elections.” People also want poverty to be resolved on priority basis, he added.