Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/Lucknow, Jun 11:
People back in Odisha were keenly watching for the results of the Uttar Pradesh Rajya Sabha polls where Odia Bahu Preeti Mahapatra was pitted against senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
The Independent candidate backed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Preeti Mahapatra lost to Sibal despite three Congress MLAs cross-voting in support of her.
The last-minute candidacy of the 37-year-old had set the rumour mills rolling of cross-voting and back-channel negotiations as 12 candidates had filed nominations for 11 seats. Of the seats, Samajwadi Party won seven, the Bahujan Samaj Party won two, while the BJP and Congress won one each.
It is worth mentioning here that the fight between the duo was one of the most keenly watched contests though it is considered mostly a closed door affair.
The socialite was little known in political circles until her bid to enter the Upper House. She had created a buzz and was much talked about.
Preeti, a commerce graduate from Hinduja College, is married to Harihara Mahapatra, who runs construction and investment firms in Gujarat, Odisha and Maharashtra.
Preeti’s NGO, Krishnaleela Foundation, is engaged in social work in tribal and backward areas and built toilets in Navsari village last year under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Besides, she also runs a forum called Narendra Modi Vichar Manch.