Kendrapara, March 13 (LocalWire): The Congress party candidates have been ‘mere hopefuls’ when it comes to winning the Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat. In the last 17 Lok Sabha elections, the party lost the seat 16 times barring the first LS polls in 1952, when veteran party leader Nityananda Kanungo won it.
‘The seed of an anti-Congress wave was sown in 1960s by the Praja Socialist Party,’ explained retired local school headmaster, Dr Basudev Das.
The PSP was able to win over the masses and it was groomed as a sturdy fighting unit by veteran socialist Surendranath Dwivedy, who made a hat-trick by winning in 1957, 1962 and 1967 Lok Sabha polls. But slowly, it faced a downslide as several PSP members joined the Congress.
But, still, the anti-Congress feeling lived on among the people and in 1967, Biju Patnaik, who fought with a Congress ticket from Patkura Assembly segment lost to a PSP candidate and school teacher Chakradhar Satpathy.
However, Biju Patnaik stabilised his base in 1971, when he was elected from Rajnagar Assembly segment in a by-election and went on to become the icon of the masses.
The late chief minister’s flamboyant personality also worked wonders with the people. He created a hat-trick by winning in 1977, 1980 and 1984 from Kendrapada. His charisma is still etched in the memory of the electorate and is reflected in the love showered on his son Chief minister Naveen Patnaik. ‘Whoever asks for votes in the constituency has to evoke Biju’s name,’ said Dr Das.
Prominent among the losers from Kendrapara with a Congress ticket are former Cabinet ministers Bhagabat Prasad Mohanty and Basanta Biswal, renowned writer Surendra Mohanty, Archana Nayak, former Union minister Srikanta Jena, former minister Batakrushna Nayak and cricketer Ranjit Biswal. On the other hand, the prominent anti-Congress leaders who were elected from the prestigious seat are former Chief minister Biju Patanaik, veteran socialist leader Surendranath Dwivedy, Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray, Pravat Samantray, former Cabinet minister Srikanta Jena and industrialist-turned-politician Baijayant Panda.
Interestingly, Srikanta Jena had been elected from Kendrapara as a Janata Dal candidate in 1996 but when he contested the seat from the Congress party in 2004, he lost. Similarly, Archana Nayak was defeated when she contested from Congress in 1999 but won in 2004 when she contested with a BJD ticket.
Milan Kanungoo, a senior lawyer, the scion of the royal family of Rajkanika, Shivendra Narayan Bhanjadeo, Rajya Sabha member Pratap Dev, former Kendrapada MLA Sipra Mallick and youth leader Pramod Sahoo are in the race for the BJD ticket to contest from Kendrapada, hoping for a win as it is an anti-Congress bastion.
BJP’s Baijayant Panda will try to keep the seat that he had won in 2014 defeating Congress’s Dharanidhar Nayak. Nayak, a senior lawyer, is again in the fray for a party ticket alongwith former MLA and district Congress president Chinmaya Beura.
The Congress leaders here, however, are reluctant to admit the fact that the party is unlucky in Kendrapara. ‘Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik lost his image due to rampant corruption in the state. A united Congress will defeat the BJD and BJP in this election,’ said Beura.