Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Jagatsinghpur, Apr 13:
In Odisha, as elsehere, ‘mamus’ (maternal uncles ) and ‘bhanjas’ (nephews) generally share a sweet and intimate relationship. But politics and elections are a funny game that has little to do with such bonds.
Take Jagatsinghpur parliamentary constituency for instance where a ‘mama-bhanja’ war is hotting up this elections.
Here, the former CPI MP and now a Congress candidate Bibhu Prasad Tarei is pitted against his own maternal uncle Dr Kulamani Samal of the BJD.
“It’s great fun watching the war between the uncle and his nephew. Thankfully both have stayed away from mud-slinging but in any case they are ”, said Ramesh Mohanty of Jagatisnghpur town..
Dr Samal of the BJD is a rank newcomer and a greenhorn in politics whereas his nephew Bibhu Tarai is quite a player. He began his career in the Congress and then joined the CPI. He made it to the Lok Sabha in the 2009 elections on a ticket from the CPI which then had an electoral understanding with the BJD.
Tarai, who has earned the epithet of ‘party-hopper’, took refuge in the Congress camp after his efforts to grab a BJD ticket failed.
Dr Samal, on the other hand, may have been a popular doctor but has little experience in politics and is yet to comprehend the tricks of the trade. He is banking entirely on the BJD brand and Naveen Patnaik’s vote appeal. He feels that is ore than enough to see him through in the electoral battle.
What do the ‘mamu’ and ‘bhanja’ say of each other ?
“I have the blessings of my mother ”, says Tarai without making any reference to his maternal uncle.
The ‘mama’ Dr Samal, on the other hand, says, “ “Bibhu Prasad Tarai’s mother is my sister but she shows no interest in politics”
“The mama-bhanja fight may have generated interest but voters will choose only the best candidate”, said Sheikh Rehman,a roadside vendor in Paradip port township.
Bibhuprasad Tarei had won the Lok Sabha seat in 2009 by defeating Rabindra Sethi of the Congress.
“CPI has little base in Jagatsinghpur but its candidate Bibu Tarai because we supported him. But the CPI has been supporting the anti- Posco movement and organizing demonstrations , road blockades at the proposed steel plant site.So it is good that BJD refused to have any truck with them this time,” says Manas Sahoo, an active supporter of the ruling BJD in Paradip.
He says Dr Kulamani Parida who is a physician and a member of the board of the the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) will win comfortably in the election.
“People will reject Bibhu Prasad Tarei who is an opportunist and a turncoat,’ said Ashok Sahu , a young college student in Kujang,
But Tarai has his own band of supporters who feel he has done quite a good job as an MP in the last five years and ensured proper utilization of his LAD funds, especially in rural areas.
“ Tarai babu has done quite a lot of things for the poor people in the villages and has maintained direct contact with the people. He will win,” says Ratikanta Rout of Paradip township.
The other serious candidate in the fray is BJP’s Baidhar Mallick who is a former legislator from Nimapara. But with the saffron party’s limited support base in the parliamentary constituency, it is unlikely that he would make much of a difference here, the so-called Modi wave notwithstanding.
Ramzan, a young voter in Nimapara said, “The voting would take place on April 17 but one has to wait for a month to know the results. I can tell you it is going to be a good contest because though BJD is stronger politically, its vote bank is under threat due to dissidents.”
Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency is spread across three important districts of coastal Odisha. While Jagatsinghpur is the largest component it includes a portion of both Cuttack and Puri districts.
Covering the vast expanse of the constituency has always been a herculean task for the candidates during the election campaign and this time too the contestants are sweating it out to woo as many voters they possibly can before the campaign ends on April 15.