Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, April 17:
The end of voting for the second phase of elections in Odisha this evening marked the beginning of a long, uneasy wait for the 845 candidates – 98 for the 11 Lok Sabha seats and 747 for the 77 Assembly seats – who were in fray in this round of elections.
Counting of votes, it may be noted, will take place on May 16, which means the candidates will have to wait for nearly a month to know the results.
Among those whose fates were sealed inside the electronic voting machine (EVM) are several bigwigs, including eight ministers and 13 former ministers
Ssome of the better known candidates in this round of elections are Union Minister Srikant Jena and former Union Minister Arjun Sethi, sitting BJD MPs Baijayant Panda, Pinaki Mishra, Tathagata Satpathy and Bhatruhari Mahtab.
Prominent among those in fray for the Assembly elections are BJP stalwart and former minister Bijay Mohapatra, OPCC President Jaydev Jena and Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra, who are contesting from Mahakalpada, Anandpur and Brahmagiri respectively.
The ministers in the fray in this round include Damodar Rout, Bijayshree Routray, Rajanikanta Singh and Pratap Keshari Deb.
One of the most keenly watched fights in the Assembly elections this time is in Khandapada where founder president of Ama Odisha Party (AOP) Soumya Ranjan Patnaik is taking on AnubhavPatnaik, son of former MLA Bijaylaxmi Patnaik who is contesting on a BJD ticket which was denied to the sitting MLA.
Apart from AOP, there are a host of smaller parties like Odisha Jan Morcha (OJM), Samata Kranti Dal, BSP, JMM and Trinamool Congress in the fray this time.
The Parliamentary seats where polling was conducted include Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Keonjhar, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Bhubaneswar and Puri.
The ruling BJD, which won 9 out of the 11 Lok Sabha seats and 69 out of the 77 Assembly seats in this round last time, has the most at stake. A majority of the seats that went to polls today were in coastal Odisha, the nerve centre of the politics in the state. If cracks appear in the BJD’s fortress in this region, it could mean serious trouble for the ruling party.
The rebel factor, combined with the resurgence of the BJP, has the potential to upset the calculations of the BJD. Both the Congress and BJP are hoping to score high in this phase of poll.