By Subrat Das*
Bhubaneswar: Bargarh Lok Sabha constituency, which is going to polls after a day, has sprung many surprises; this time with changes in the candidature and even role reversals.
All the three prominent parties-BJD, BJP and Congress- have changed their candidates this time for this Lok Sabha constituency. Pravas Singh, the sitting MP who had won the seat securing 3.83 lakh votes, has been replaced by prominent BJD leader of western Odisha and Rajya Sabha member Prasanna Acharya. Similarly, Bharatiya Janata Party has changed its candidate, triggering revolt. A firebrand leader, Subash Chouhan had last time given a tough fight and lost the seat by a slender margin of 11,178 votes. Chouhan, who has been replaced by party’s national secretary Suresh Pujari, has quit the party in protest and joined rival Biju Janata Dal.
The Congress, which had fielded former MP Sanjay Bhoi, has also changed him and has nominated a new face Pradip Debata, a trade leader.
Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal supremo Naveen Patnaik is for the first time contesting from Bijepur assembly segment under Bargarh Lok Sabha constituency himself. Last year, he had worked hard to ensure the victory of his party candidate Ritarani Sahu in a by-election by over 45,000 votes. Interestingly, Ritarani was the widow of sitting Congress MLA Subal Sahu, who had won the seat consecutively thrice. Naveen, who has been able to snatch the seat from Congress, has decided to fight from this time, to give a message that he is with the people of western Odisha.
Naveen, who has been campaigning for his party candidates for the last two days, today addressed a meeting at Bargarh and highlighted his government’s newly launched pro-farmer programme Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA). It may be noted that Bargarh district is an agrarian belt which is considered as the “rice bowl of Odisha”.
Another strange thing is that Prasanna Acharya, who had lost the Bijepur assembly seat to Subal Sahu in 2014 by only 458 votes, has been chosen as the party candidate for the entire Lok Sabha constituency.
This time, sitting Congress MLA from Jharsuguda Naba Kishore Das, is sitting on the opposite side of fence and is contesting as Biju Janata Dal candidate.
Kishore Kumar Mohanty, who had represented the party from Jharsuguda in the past, has been shifted to neighbouring Brajarajnagar.
The ruling party, however, has not taken any risk and renominated two ministers Susant Singh and Snehangini Chhuria and sitting MLA from Bargarh, Devesh Acharya, nephew of Prasanna Acharya.
Though the BJP has changed its Lok Sabha candidate, it has renominated its two sitting MLAs Pradeep Purohit from Padampur and Radharani Panda from Brajarajnagar and last election’s candidate Ashwini Kumar Sarangi and Milan Seth. The party has given new face for three other assembly segments-Bijepur, Bhatli and Jharsuguda.
Congress, on the other hand, has chosen three old guards Satya Bhusan Sahu, Ripunath Seth and Nihar Ranjan Mahananda to contest from Padampur, Bijepur and Attabira. It has also made seat sharing with the Left Parties and left Brajarajnagar assembly seat, which was being held by CPI veteran Prasanna Kumar Panda, to the left party as part of seat sharing. CPI leader Ramesh Tripathy is contesting from the seat this time.
The writer is a journalist currently working with Sambad Group as Consultant Editor of Group Digital Edition.