Berhampur, April 01 (LocalWire): Fiefdom may have seen the end of royals with the gaining of Independence from British rule but still there are pockets in the country, where the royal families hold sway over the electorate.
The politically-influential Khallikote royal who ‘ruled’ for half-a-century has refrained from contesting due to ill-health but still the politically sensitive Ganjam district will see scions of Chikiti, Dharakote and Paralakhemundi royal families continue the tradition of ruling over the aam aadmi, said poll observers.
The ‘queen’ and senior BJD leader Usha Devi is seeking re-election from her bastion Chikiti, for the sixth time. Nandini Devi, scion of Dharakote royal family is contesting from Sanakhemundi for the second time with BJD ticket while Kalyani Gajapati, of Paralakhemundi royals, is a greenhorn in politics.
Usha Devi, the technical education minister had won the seat in 1990 and thereafter all the elections till 2014 while her father-in-law Sachidananda Deo won the seat in 1971 and 1974.
She is pitted against BJP’s Manoranjan Dyanasamntara, son of former Assembly speaker and senior Congress leader Chintamani Dyanasamantara.
Nandini Devi will contest against former MLA and Congress leader Ramesh Chandra Jena, whom she had defeated in the last elections.
Nandini’s husband Kishore Chandra Singhdeo, father-in-law AN Singhdeo and mother-in-law Shanti Devi have all been elected to the Assembly several times since 1967.
K Surya Rao of the Congress, BJP’s K Narayan Rao and rebel Congress candidate Tirupati Panigrahy will fight against Kalyani Gajapati, daughter of Gopinath Gajapati Narayan Dev, two times MP from Berhampur, who though new to politics, is hoping to tide over the election banking on her royal legacy.
BJD this year dropped 82-year-old royal matriarch VSugnana Kumari Deo, who had a huge political influence in Khallikote and Kabisurya Nagar Assembly segments, that she won 10 times and replaced her with Latika Pradhan in Kabisurya Nagara Assembly constituency.
Sugnana Devi followed her father-in-law Ram Chandra Mardharaj who was elected twice from Khallikote.
She was first elected to the Assembly in 1963 in a by-election from Khallikote which she later won eight times and two times from Kabisurya Nagara.