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Big guns fail to fire in ULB polls

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OST Political Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 21:

They are considered political heavyweights. But when it came to winning elections for their respective parties, they proved to be duds.

Take Pradip Maharathy for example. It is widely believed that not a leaf moves in his pocket borough of Pipli without the consent of the five-time MLA and former Agriculture minister. But even he could not ensure victory for his party in the NAC election. There could be two reasons for this. It is possible that the Pipli heavyweight was still sulking for having been thrown out of the cabinet for his alleged role in the infamous Pipli gang rape case and did not give his all in the ULB polls. It is equally possible that his best was just not good enough. Either way, the election result has dented his standing both in the party and his constituency – hardly a happy augury just six months ahead of the next Assembly elections.

Energy minister Arun Sahu is all over the media defending his party position on a host of issues. But the party could not retain its position in what is considered his fiefdom: Nayagarh. Forest and environment minister Bijayshree Routray could not ensure victory for his party in his citadel of Basudevpur while Steel and Mines minister Rajanikanta Singh came a cropper in Angul. District BJD president and local MLA Bishnu Prasad Das was so busy fighting his arch rival and Health minister Damodar Rout that he perhaps forgot that the battle in Jagatsinghpur was with the Congress.

On his part, Rout was perhaps more interested in happenings back home than in Angul, the municipality that he was entrusted to look after by party supremo Naveen Patnaik. Amar Satpathy, who along with three other colleagues from NCP merged seamlessly with the BJD last year, gave a poor account of himself in Jaleswar. Former minister Pratap Jena in Soro, Biju Yuba Janata Dal chief Sanjay Dasverma in Udala, Karanjia and Rairangpur and former Finance minister Prafulla Ghadai in Jagatsinghpur fared no better.

The performance of Congress big guns was even more disastrous. OPCC president Jayadev Jena, tasked with ensuring victory for his party throughout the state, failed to do so even in his home district of Keonjhar. Why, he could not even retain Anandpur, his home turf, for the party.

In the company of leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh,the PCC president campaigned extensively in Jajpur, Koraput, Rayagada and Baleswar. But the party not only did not win in these seats, it fared even worse than it did in 2008.

Srikant Jena had surprised many with his win in the Baleswar Lok Sabha constituency in 2009. But when it came to ensuring victory for the Congress from the place, the union minister was found grossly unequal to the task.

When an incumbent minister could not ensure victory in his constituency, it was perhaps too much to expect a former minister like Chandra Sekhar Sahu to do so in Brahmapur. Pradip Majhi’s alleged proximity to Rahul Gandhi counted for precious little as he failed to win Nabarangpur for his party.

But the award for the boast of the ULB election has to go to newly appointed BJP president Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo, who claimed even on election day that his party would win ‘at least 25%’ of the seats and then ended up with just 48 wards out of the total of 1142 barely 24 hours after.

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