Paradip: All eyes are now on the Paradip Assembly segment in Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency where elections will be held April 29 during the fourth phase.
Political analysts have started speculating on the outcome here which was earlier represented by former minister Damodar Rout. The political equation in this constituency changed after Damodar was sacked by the BJD.
This Assembly seat had witnessed a two-cornered contest last time, but this time a triangular contest is on the cards as Damodar is no more in the run.
After his sacking from the BJD, Damodar joined the BJP, and is contesting from the Balikuda-Erasama Assembly seat. Nine candidates are in the fray here, but the main contest is between the BJD, the BJP and the Congress.
The BJD has fielded Damodar’s son Sambit Routray. Sambit is pitted against BJP nominee Sampad Swain and Congress nominee Arindam Sarkhel aka Bapi in this constituency.
Arindam is known to the public as he had contested against Sambit’s father Damodar Rout in 2014. Sambit and Sampad are contesting for the first time.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan toured the area and campaigned for their respective parties in Rahama and Kujang. This has warmed up the workers of the respective parties and campaigning has intensified with just four days to go for polling.
Arindam has resorted to high-tech campaigning to woo voters. However, the dissidence in the three parties and the party hopping of local leaders has created fear among all the three candidates.
The BJD’s vote share is more in this seat as it has remained a citadel of the party since its formation. But leaders are finding it difficult to keep the organisational base intact due to disenchantment among party workers.
Many BJD leaders were eyeing a ticket from this seat after Damodar was dismissed. The incumbent MLA of Barabati-Cuttack, Debashis Samantray, Basant Biswal, former chairman of Paradip Municipality, and trade union leader Santosh Pattnaik were in the race for the party ticket.
There hopes were dashed when the BJD picked Sambit Routray as its nominee. This has given rise to strong resentment in the party, and Sambit is finding it hard to carry disgruntled elements with him.
Moreover, he was never involved in any party programmes in the area. He got a huge relief when trade union leader Santosh Pattnaik who was earlier opposing him decided to support him.
Similarly, Congress leader Pramod Jena and BJP leader Gatikrushna Satpathy have joined the BJD, while Debashis is still silent about his support for the party candidate.
The supporters of Debashis are deserting the BJD and joining other parties. Another leader Basant Biswal is working for the party candidate, but the usual enthusiasm is missing.
Another good BJD organiser and Telugu leader K. Subarao of Sandhakuda left the BJD and joined the Congress. This might spell trouble for Sambit who is trying to take everyone in his stride and move ahead.
Congress nominee Arindam has intensified campaigning on his own without the help of senior leaders. His posters and banners do not carry the name of the party’s MP candidate. He is trying to win on the basis of the work he has done in the constituency and the support of trade unions.
He is moving door to door seeking votes with his hi-tech campaigning style although not even a single state or Central leader of the party has visited the area to campaign for him. However, Arindam is struggling hard as his opponents are highlighting the criminal cases pending against him.
This time the BJP has moved ahead. The party had received only 5,800 votes in 2014, but it tasted success in the 2015 municipality elections and bagged two Zilla Parishad seats in the 2018 panchayat elections.
The saffron party has made its presence felt in this election and has managed to force a triangular contest. It is expected that the vote share of the BJP might go up this time.
BJP candidate Sampad and his supporters are quite hopeful of winning. His supporters are ecstatic after Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan campaigned for him, but the presence of some dissidents and senior leader Gatikrushna Satapthy leaving the party might spoil his chances.
This constituency has 2,07,000 voters, of whom around 1,60,000 voted last time.
From ground zero
The political equation in this constituency changed after Damodar Rout was sacked by the BJD.
This seat had witnessed a two-cornered contest last time, but this time a triangular contest is on cards as Damodar is no more in the run.
Nine candidates are in the fray, but the main contest is between BJD, BJP and Congress.
BJD has fielded Damodar’s son Sambit Routray. Sambit is pitted against BJP’s Sampad Swain and Arindam Sarkhel aka Bapi of Congress.