Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Khandapada (Nayagarh), Apr 4:
The ensuing Assembly elections in Odisha is all set to usher in a change in the political scenario in Khandapada of Nayagarh district as the people are fed up with the rule of the two families that have been ruling the roost in this constituency for the last 54 years.
Harihar Singh Mardaraj, scion of the Khandapada royal family that ruled the former princely state for over 300 years, was elected from this constituency in 1951. After completing his fourth-term in a row in 1971, he handed over the baton to his son Bibhuti Bhusan Singh Mardaraj, who was elected twice in succession from this constituency from 1980 to 1990. He was again elected in 1995 and remained in power till 2000 when his son Sidharth Sekhar Singh Mardaraj contested and won from this constituency.
Ending the 40-year rule of the Mardaraj family, the Patnaik family of this constituency has now taken over the reign for the last 14 years.
In the 1990 elections, Arun Kumar Patnaik won from this seat after defeating Bibhuti Bhusan. Later his wife Bijaylaxmi Patnaik won from this seat in consecutively in 2000 and 2004 and remained in power for nine years.
BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has nominated Bijaylaxmi’s son Anubhav as the party candidate for the ensuing elections scheduled on April 17.
All pointers to voter preference suggest that he people of Khandapada are in no mood to cast their votes in favour of the BJD candidate this time as they have been thoroughly disgusted by the gross misrule and goondaism of the Patnaik family during their tenure.
Political analysts are of the opinion that the voters’ trend is now in favour of former MP and president of Ama Odisha Party (AOP) Soumya Ranjan Patnaik whose call for a new Khandapada free from all vices has struck a chord with the people and would help him win the election from this constituency this time.