Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
With voting for the first phase of elections in Odisha having come to an end this evening, the fate of 771 candidates including several bigwigs contesting for 10 Lok Sabha and 70 Assembly has been locked in EVMs today.
The candidates would be spending sleepless nights for over a month till the EVMs are opened and the votes counted on May 16.
While 98 candidates are contesting for 10 Lok Sabha seats, 673 candidates are in the fray for 70 Assembly seats.
While chief minister Naveen Patnaik is seeking re-election for the fourth consecutive time from Hinjli assembly constituency in Ganjam district, voters have locked the fate of two former chief ministers and senior Congress leaders Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamang in EVMs.
Biswal is seeking re-election from Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat. He is pitted against former state BJP president Jual Oram and hockey icon and BJD candidate Dilip Tirkey. Gamang, a nine-time parliamentarian from Koraput LS segment is in fray this time to turn his presence in the lower house into a double digit number. The veteran leader is pitted against BJD’s Jhinna Hikaka and BJP’s Shiv Shankar Ulaka.
Besides the chief minister, the first phase polls will decide the fate of 40 senior leaders including nine ministers, former ministers, speaker and former speaker.
The nine ministers of the ruling party whose fate was decided today are finance minister Prasanna Acharya (Bijepur), transport minister Subrat Tarai (Raghunathpalli), excise minister Niranjan Pujari (Sonepur), Sports minister Ramesh Majhi (Jharigaon), Rural development minister Bikram Keshari Arukh (Bhanjnagar), Revenue minister Surya Narayan Patro (Digapahandi), Women and child development Usha Devi (Chikiti), Tribal welfare minister Lal Bihari Himrika (Rayagada) and School and mass education minister Rabi Narayan Nanda (Jeypore).
Similarly, the Congress heavyweights Bhakta Charan Das (Kalahandi LS) Sadhu Nepak (Bargarh), Naba Das (Jharsuguda), Sarat Pattnaik (Bolangir LS), Surendra Singh Bhoi (Titlagarh), Narasingh Mishra (Bolangir), Santosh Singh Saluja (Kantabanjhi) and Chandra Sekhar Sahu (Bramhapur LS) are in the fray.
The fate of BJP’s Dillip Ray (Rourkela), Suresh Pujari (Sambalpur LS), Pradipta Nayak (Kalahandi LS), Karendra Majhi (Baliguda), Kumudini Pattnaik (Polsara) and Rama Chandra Panda (Bramhapur LS) have been locked in the voting machine.
All the three parties had campaigned extensively in south and western Odisha seeking votes to ensure victory of their candidates. While BJP eyed to capture 5-6 Lok Sabha seats and 35 Assembly seats riding on the Modi wave, BJD had made an extensive game plan to get 7-8 out of the 10 Lok Sabha seats and 50-55 out of the 70 Assembly seats after completely demolishing the fort of opposition in last urban polls. It has also successfully poached several leaders from opposition fold including former leader of opposition Bhupindar Singh, Anup Sai and former BJP president Lambodar Kuanr.
However, the Congress hopes to retain all the five Lok Sabha and 24 Assembly seats in the region.