Patana: Electioneering came to an end Sunday evening for the third phase of elections in Keonjhar. Patana Assembly constituency, reserved for ST, is apparently going to witness a tough fight between BJD and BJP.
The No. 23 Assembly segment comprises 56 panchayats. Of them, 20 each are under Patana and Saharapada blocks, 10 under Jhumpura block and six under Champua block.
The number of voters is 1, 93, 974, including 95, 202 women. BJP leader Gourahari Nayak (as BJD-BJP alliance nominee) was elected from this seat twice in 2000 and 2004. After the two parties parted their ways in 2009, the ruling party nominee Hrushikesh Nayak was elected from the seat in 2009 and 2014.
In 2014, Hrushikesh clinched the seat from his nearest rival BJP’s Bhabanishankar Nayak by a margin of only 8,843 votes. The narrow margin in the electoral loss has given the BJP hopes to plug the gap this time.
While the BJD had got 29.91 percent vote, the BJP had 23.98 percent vote. That time, Independent candidate backed by Sanatan Mahakud had managed to get 15.5 percent vote, which will play a crucial role in the win of any candidate this time, political analysts say. Congress nominee had got 15.58 percent vote.
Another factor that has given an edge to the BJP is that the party had gained more voters than the BJD in the zilla parishad elections held in 2017.
Now, eight candidates are in the fray. During their road shows, and meetings, all candidates had pulled out all stops to woo voters. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik carried out a marathon campaign in the area for the party nominee while OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik has mounted an equally forceful campaign for his party candidate.
On the other hand, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has campaigned for Bhabanishankar at Turumunga grounds.
However, the BJD has this time given chance to a new face like Patana block chairperson Jagannath Nayak.
Congress has fielded Binod Bihari Nayak, who was earlier with the BJD.
Another contestant is Akhila Chandra Nayak, who had recently retired from the civil service hoping to get a BJP ticket. But he was frustrated after the saffron party gave ticket to Bhabanishankar.
Akhila has been a cause of concern for the BJP, as some frontline leaders of the BJP are supporting the former.