Kendrapara: Although the Election Commission of India (ECI) has not issued its notification for the election to the Patkura Assembly constituency, the three major political parties have started serious preparations to win the seat, which is considered a citadel of the BJD.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Odisha, Surendra Kumar, paid a visit to Kendrapara to take stock of the situation and discussed with District collector, Prem Chandra Chaudhary at Jajanga-based circuit house.
The ECI may issue a fresh notification for holding polls in Patkura along with the Bijepur by-poll any day.
Elections in Patkura were countermanded due to the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwalla April 20. Later, the BJD fielded Sabitri Agrawalla, the wife of Bed Prakash.
May 6, the ECI decided to put off election in Patkura for 60 days due to the devastation caused by cyclone Fani.
The BJD recently sent several MLAs to Patkura to launch the campaign for its nominee Sabitri Agrawalla as it has become a prestige issue for the ruling party to defeat BJP nominee Bijoy Mohapatra.
BJD sources said Minister Praffula Mallick has been tasked to look after Garadapur block and Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain has been entrusted the job of coordinator in the block.
Similarly, Minister Arun Sahu and former MLA-cum-BJD general secretary Sanjay Kumar Das Burma has been directed to look after Derabish block and MLA of Mahakalapada, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, has been entrusted with the Marshaghai and Garadapur blocks.
The BJD is aiming to prevent Bijoy Mohapatra from winning. A meeting of BJD workers for the upcoming election was organised Monday at the house-cum-BJD office of Mahakalapada MLA Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak in Kanchilo village. Many BJD MLAs and the Ministers attended the meeting.
Steel, Mines and Works Minister Praffula Kumar Mallick, Food Supplies, Consumer Welfare and Co-operation Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain, Jagatsinghpur MLA Prasant Muduli, Salepur MLA Prasant Behera, Bhubneswar MLA Ananata Narayan Jena, Rourkela MLA Sarada Nayak, former Jatani MLA Bibhuti Balabantaray, Sanjay Agrawalla, son of Sabitri Agrawalla, former block chairman of Marshaghai Sanjay Kumar Lenka, ZP Member Pramod Rath, local BJD leaders and organisers of Marshaghai block attended the meeting.
Addressing the gathering, Cabinet Minister Praffula Kumar Mallick said Kendrapara district, especially Patkura Assembly seat, was the Karmabhumi of the late Biju Patnaik. Due to Biju Babu’s strong leadership the seat is known as an anti-Congress bastion. The Minister asked BJD workers to ensure the victory of BJD nominee Sabitri Agrawalla.
Patkura has proved to be a BJD fortress in past elections. “Naveen Patnaik became the Chief Minister for five consecutive terms only because he has been able to give a clean government. So party workers should support BJD nominee Sabitri Agrawalla and send her to the Assembly so that development projects can continue in Patkura,” Atanu Sabysachi Nayak said while addressing party workers.
The BJP too has started preparations as party leaders Tuesday organised a meeting at Kendrapara, and discussed strategies to give a big blow to ruling party in Patkura by ensuring the victory of Mohapatra.
State BJP leaders Manmohan Samal, Manas Mohanty, Bhrugu Buxipatra, Dillip Mallick, Bibhu Tarei, Rama Baliarsingh, Gautam Ray, Bijoy Mohapatra, Pravati Parida and district leaders of the BJP organised a meeting of party workers.
Later, a press meet addressed by former BJP Minister Manmohan Samal was organised at Kendrapara. BJP leaders said the party candidate is going to win as the voters of Patkura believe in self-respect.
“We are sure that with the victory of Bijoy Mohapatra, the number of BJP MLAs will increase from 23 to 24,” said Bhrugu Buxipatra.
“We are ready for any challenge in Patkura. The BJD is conspiring to delay elections here. The local administration will be used by the ruling party during the polls like in the past. But people will vote for Bijoy Mohapatra and the BJP,” added Buxipatra.
Patkura Assembly seat is an important constituency not only in the district, but also in the state as it is the home turf of several leaders like Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Bijoy Mohapatra, Archana Nayak, Jayant Mohanty and others.
With Bijoy Mahapatra, widely regarded as the arch rival of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the fray, Patkura has become a key Assembly seat. It has now become a question of political survival for Mohaptra. If he loses, it would possibly be the end of his political career.
In 2004 Assembly polls, Mohapatra, who contested as an OGP candidate from Patkura, was defeated by Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak by 2,855 votes.
In 2009, he locked horns with BJD nominee Bed Prakash Agrawalla on a BJP ticket from Patkura, and was defeated by 26,735 votes.
In the 2014 Assembly polls Bijoy Mohapatra concentrated on Mahakalapada Assembly seat and contested once again on a BJP ticket against Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak of the BJD. But he was defeated by the BJD nominee by 23,246 votes.
Besides Bijoy Mohapatra and Sabitri Agrawalla, Congress candidate, Jayanta Mohanty, is also in the fray in Patkura.
The Congress had won this seat last way back in 1961. Bijoy Mohapatra won from this seat in 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995 Assembly polls.