Bhubaneswar, July 9 (LocalWire): As the hustle and bustle of electioneering is slowly picking for Patkura bye-election scheduled on 20 July, it is slowly emerging to be a do or die situation for a veteran politician and four-time MLA Bijoy Mohapatra, whose survival in state politics now depends on winning the election.
Polling for Patkura Assembly seat was initially scheduled for 29 April but it had to be postponed because of the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwal on April 20.
The ECI then fixed 19 May for the polls, but it had to be further postponed due to cyclone Fani.
The main rival of BJP’s Mohapatra is BJD’s Sabitri Agarwalla, widow of Bed Prakash, a six-time MLA who represented Patkura in the last two terms.
Jayant Mohanty is the Congress nominee contesting for the seat.
Mohapatra, who has been on a losing spree since 2004 assembly polls, had incidentally lost to BJD’s rival politician Agarwalla in 2009 elections by 27,000 votes.
The old war horse-Mohapatra is perhaps fighting the all-important poll battle of his four-decade-long topsy-turvy political career.
With a well-chalked-out strategy, the BJD is leaving no stone unturned to ensure Mohapatra’s defeat.
The party already has plans to flood the constituency with BJD heavyweights in the coming days and it will be interesting to see far the BJP and Congress can match the ruling party’s prowess using their star campaigners.
The newfound bonhomie between BJD and BJD, which had become public with ruling BJD extending support to BJP’s Ashwini Vaishnav candidature in the recently concluded Rajya Sabha election, has added a contrasting twist to the bye-election.
Voters are thoroughly confused as there is ample sign of BJD inching closure to BJP ahead of the by-election.
“The BJD’s stand ensuring the victory of BJP candidate in RS polls has left us baffled. I am yet to decide whom to vote. Like chameleons changing colours, the political parties are changing their stand. It’s the politics of opportunities. I may have to make serious rethink before casting my franchise,” a voter from Derabish, Anam Rout said.
The Patkura seat includes 26-gram panchayats from Derabish block, 18 GPs from Garadpur block besides seven GPs from Marshaghai block.
Mohapatra was one of the founders of the BJD but was unceremoniously ousted from the party by Naveen just before the 2000 assembly polls. Since then, he has not been able to make it to the state assembly.
In the 2000 elections, he failed to contest as the BJD supremo withdrew his ticket at the eleventh hour replacing him with Atanu Sabyasachi.
But Mahapatra backed an Independent and ensured his victory.
Mohapatra on the erstwhile Janata Dal ticket had emerged victorious from this seat in 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995 assembly polls.