Bhubaneswar,March 12 (LocalWire) A tribal and dalit dominated constituency, Kalahandi is likely to witness an interesting triangular battle between ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Congress and BJP this time.
While the BJD would try to retain the seat it is likely to face a stiff challenge from both BJP and Congress.
While Congress’s probable candidate, former union minister, Bhakta Charan Das is a strong contender BJP has improved its position in the constituency substantially as evident from the results of the last panchayat elections when the saffron party swept in almost all the seven assembly segments of the constituency barring Nuapada and Khariar.
Some BJD leaders in the area like Junagarh’s sitting MLA, Captain Dibya Shankar Mishra have become extremely unpopular.
Sometime ago a video showing him threatening a handicapped person at a public meeting had gone viral. Eversince he is believed to be in the bad books of chief minister, Naveen Patnaik.
In the assembly segments of Lanjigarh, Junagarh, Dharmgarh, Bhawanipatna and Narla the BJP will throw a stiff challenge to the ruling BJD.
However, the failure of BJP do well in the entire Nuapada district which includes Nuapada and Khariar assembly constituencies remains a cause of concern for the saffron party.
The major issues in Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency are anti-people industrialisation and continued under-development of tribals, specially the Kondh tribals residing in Niyamgiri.
The tribals, who have been fighting the bid to mine the Niyamgiri hills, their traditional abode, are currently up in arms over the recent arrest of Niyangiri Suraksha Parishad advisor, Lingraj Azad.
Though the bid to mine the hills for bauxite was stalled a few years ago with a majority of gram sabhas in the region voting against it the fear of government making a fresh attempt in this direction still looms large.
For Congress’s Bhakta Charan Das this has been a big issue in the elections as he was once at the fore-front of the anti-mining movement in Niyamgiri.
The general under-development of Kalahandi which literally means a black pot also remains a big issue.
The reason, notorious for droughts and stories of starvation deaths and sale of babies, is virtually bereft of industries and big irrigation project.
While the Lanjigarh aluminium refinery is the only major industry in the district most of its rural areas depend upon rains for irrigation.
The annual migration of labour has been a feature of this poverty-ridden constituency with successive governments only making claims about its development but actually doing nothing substantial about it.
These issues are likely to put the ruling BJD in the spot while Congress and BJP would try to take advantage of it. It is going to be an interesting battle.