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Heavyweights lock horns in phase II Odisha polls

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Bhubaneswar: Several political heavyweights including incumbent Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik are facing a major test in the second phase of elections in Odisha today.

As Odisha is going to polls for five Lok Sabha and 35 Assembly Constituencies in phase II, the fight is expected to be tough among the candidates fielded by three major political parties in the State.

The polls will decide the fortunes of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Supremo Naveen Patnaik, Speaker Pradeep Amat, Union Minister Jual Oram, Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra and senior BJP leader Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo, among others.

This time, Patnaik is contesting from Bijepur Assembly Constituency in western Odisha apart from Hinjili that has sent him to Assembly four times in a row since 2000, to measure his political strength eyeing the fifth consecutive term as the CM of Odisha.

While he is fighting against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and senior lawyer Pitambar Acharya and Congress candidate Shambhunath Panigrahi in Hinjili, the Bijepur seat witnessed electoral fight among the BJD chief, BJP’s Sanat Gadtia and Congress’ Ripunath Seth in the second phase of polls.

Besides, Speaker Pradeep Amat, Ministers Bikram Keshari Arukh, Snehangini Chhuria, Sushant Singh, Niranjan Pujari and Naba Kishore Das, Jogesh Singh, Arkesh Narayan Singh Deo, Mangala Kisan, Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo and Narasingha Mishra are among others who are contesting the Assembly polls in the second phase.

Similarly, the fate of Lok Sabha candidates including Rajya Sabha MP and Edupreneur Achyuta Samanta, BJD leaders Kalikesh Singh Deo, Prasanna Acharya, former Odisha Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal’s daughter Sunita Biswal will be sealed in the EVMs today.

The Balangir Lok Sabha Constituency witnessed interesting fight between BJD’s Kalikesh and BJP’s Sangeeta Singh Deo — the two royals of late Chief Minister Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo family — in the elections.

BJD’s Lok Sabha candidate Achyuta Samanta also faced challenge from BJP’s MA Kharavela Swain and Congress’ Manoj Acharya in Kandhamal. While BJD’s Prasanna Acharya is contesting the polls from Bargarh Lok Sabha Constituency against BJP’s Suresh Pujari and Congress’ Pradeep Debata, Aska LS Constituency had fight among BJD’s Mission Shakti fame Pramila Bisoi, BJP’s Anita Priyadarshini and Congress backed CPI candidate Ramakrushna Panda. Meanwhile, BJD’s Sunita Biswal locked horns with Jual Oram (BJP) and George Tirkey (Congress) in the polls.

While Odisha’s ruling BJD is hoping to capture all 21 Lok Sabha seats in the four-phase elections, BJP and Congress have fielded strong candidates to give tough fight.

Worth mentioning, BJD had won 20 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 elections. However, Sundergarh was the only Lok Sabha seat the BJP had managed to win in Odisha in last polls.