Kendrapara, April 5 (LocalWire): Mahanga Assembly segment under Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat is all set for a triangular battle in the coming elections.
The sitting BJD MLA and minister of health and family welfare and law, Pratap Jena, appears to be running out of steam as he faces tough opposition in Mahanga from the BJP candidate Sarada Pradhan and debutant Congress candidate and influential businessman Debendra Sahoo.
In 2014, Jena defeated Independent candidate Sarada Pradhan by a margin of 27,874 votes. Jena got 89,531 votes whereas Pradhan polled 61,657. Congress candidate Matlub Ali got only 22,297 votes.
Senior Congress leader Shaik Matlub Ali, who lost from Mahanga Assembly segment four times in a row in 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2014 polls decided not to contest this year.
‘I bowed out of the elections as I am unable to invest time and resources. Six months back, I informed the state unit of my party of not contesting the coming elections. Now, I am campaigning for the party candidate Debendra Sahoo, said Ali, a senior Congress leader and former minister who was elected four times from Mahanga in 1974, 1980, 1985 and 1995.
The present government has done several developmental works in Mahanga but that is not enough to win the election for Jena.
‘The BJD candidate’s strength lies in the way he has nurtured his constituency,’ said Bharar Das of Mahanga although Jena’s mantra is ‘development for Mahanga’ as he sweats it out in what appears to be his most gruelling campaign so far. ‘The BJD government did many developmental works for which voters will vote in favour of me,’ said Jena.
On the other hand, Sarada Pradhan, the BJP candidate said, ‘There will be a revolution this year in my favour as people have already decided to vote for me. Jena is an outsider and the Congress candidate has no base in Mahanga.’
‘Sarada Pradhan is popular because he is always in touch with the people in this constituency.
During the last elections, he secured 61,657 votes as an independent candidate from here and the reason why BJP chose him this time,’ said Anadi Sutar of Mahanga.
The ruling party has labelled the Opposition as corrupt parties.
The Congress’ past defeats in Mahanga are being attributed to the unpopularity of the party but the Congress candidate Debendra Sahoo has a strong organizational network in his constituency, said Chitta Das of Asuraswar village.
The 20-thousand-strong minority population is the strong vote-bank of Mahanga since long for Congress and the BJD. Muslims will not vote in favour of the BJP candidate, said Sabir Ali, villager of Katikata.
‘BJP has good base in Mahanga. Rampant corruption in rural development work is an issue in this poll,’ added Pradhan.
‘Mahanga is for the first time witnessing a bitter triangular battle featuring the BJD, Congress and the BJP. The presence of Pradhan is making it more complex. However, the BJD is banking on the rallies of Naveen Patnaik to galvanise its workers into canvassing support for the party,’ said Binod Jena of Mahanga.