Bhubaneswar: The BJD has announced names of candidates for 18 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats, but the remaining three are proving to be tricky for the party, which is busy working out all permutations and combinations.
The three remaining seats are the prestigious Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency, Dhenkanal and Keonjar, where elections are slated for April 23.
Cuttack Lok Sabha Constituency
Indications are that the BJD will replace sitting MP Bhartruhari Mahtab with Soumya Ranjan Patnaik to douse any anti-incumbency sentiments in this constituency. Mahtab has won from this seat for five consecutive times. Earlier, this seat was held by former chief minister Biju Patnaik.
Sources said Ama Odisha, which Saumya Ranjan had floated before joining the BJD, is still active in the Assembly segments under Cuttack parliamentary seat. This could work in his favour even though Ama Odisha hasn’t formally merged with the BJD.
Dhenkanal Parliamentary Constituency
All eyes are fixed on this seat, as speculation is rife that the BJD might field someone from the Dhenkanal royal family against the BJP’s Rudra Narayan Pani. The name of senior Congress leader Kamakhya Prasad Singh Deo’s elder daughter-in-law Meenal Kumari is doing the rounds.
The BJD’s sitting MP, Tathagata Satpathy, who won four consecutive terms from this seat, has already announced his departure from active politics.
If Meenal is fielded from this constituency, it will be a strategic move by the BJD to keep other members away from the electoral race. Her nomination will also fulfil the BJD’s mandate of fielding 33 per cent women of all parliamentary seats in Odisha.
The BJD’s district unit president and minister of steel and mines Prafulla Kumar Mallik, ex-MLA Sudhir Kumar Samal and sitting Sambalpur MP Nagendra Kumar Pradhan are also in contention for the Dhenkanal seat.
On the other hand, BJP candidate R.N. Pani exuded confidence about winning the popular mandate of the voters.
“There is a Modi wave across the state. People are frustrated with the Naveen Patnaik government and want a change,” he told Odisha Bytes during an interaction.
“There are 14 lakh voters in the constituency and the slogan I carry to all corners is Kaho Dil Se Modi Phir Se,” he said.
Keonjhar Lok Sabha Constituency
The sitting MP from here is Sakuntala Laguri of the BJD but there is speculation that she may not be repeated for the ensuing polls. Instead, the party is looking for a new face to contest the elections from this seat. The party had wrested this seat from the BJP in 2009.