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Can BJP break the jinx in Bhubaneswar LS seat?

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Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha segment is in for a high-decibel contest tomorrow despite newbies being fielded by the major political parties.

Call it the fight between former bureaucrats or administrators; the contest is going to be two-way in this prestigious parliamentary seat.

The Biju Janata Dal nominee Arup Mohan Patnaik, a retired IPS officer is in straight contest with Bharatiya Janata Party’s Aparajita Sarangi, an IAS officer who opted for voluntary retirement scheme last year.

The contestants of the two major political parties are first-timers in the electoral battle. On the other hand, the CPI (M) candidate Janardan Pati is making his political debut in his five-decade-old activism career. Congress has left the seat to CPM as part of seat sharing agreement with Left Parties. Earlier in the past, CPM had won the seat thrice (1977, 1989 and 1991).

Pati – a Left leader-cum-social activist – has been in the political space since decades. However, Patnaik and Sarangi took political plunge very recently. While Mumbai top cop made inroads into the electoral arena through Biju Yuva Vahini, the former BMC Commissioner surprised one and all with her joining the saffron party after quitting job. Since then, she has been making whirlwind visits to the constituency.

The voters in this constituency have voted in more or less predictable pattern. Since 1952, Congress, CPI (M) and BJD have been winning the seat. The CPI (M)’s Shivaji Patnaik had won thrice, Chintamani Panigrahi four times and BJD’s Prasanna Kumar Patasani has conquered the seat five times. However, the BJP has never been able to win the seat ever.

In the last General Election, Patasani polled 49.25 percent votes as compared to BJP’s Prithviraj Harichandan with 28.01 percent to win the seat for fifth time in a row.

In 2009 elections, BJD candidate Patasani emerged victorious with 56.32 percent vote share. The BJP candidate Archana Nayak came a distant third with 13.22 percent votes.  The statistics of 2004 election reveals that the BJD emerged victorious with 51.32 percent vote share and Congress candidate Soumya Ranjan Patnaik who got 38.16 percent votes secured second position. BJP was nowhere in the scene in that election.

As part of BJD-BJP alliance till its break away on the eve of 2009 general elections, Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat had fallen in BJD share. So BJP was not in the fray in 1998, 1999 and 2004 parliamentary elections. However in 1996, BJP secured third position with 9.87 percent votes. Congress candidate Soumya Ranjan Patnaik had polled 47.45 percent votes to win the Lok Sabha seat.

BJP’s Santi Das got 7.61 percent votes to secure third position in 1991 elections. In 1989 election too, Das stood third with even a lower voter percentage i.e, 2.46 percent. Shivaji Patnaik had won the MP seat then for the third and last time.

Going by the figures available with Election Commission, no BJP candidate has so far put up a formidable fight against its opponents in the run for the Lower House. The contest, however, this time is among equals. The political newbies of the leading parties will lock horns in the electoral battle, result of which will be announced on May 23. Till then, voters, newsmen, political pundits and parties will be waiting for the final results with a bated breath.

It remains to be seen whether BJP will manage to break the jinx in the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency.