Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 31:
With the first phase polls just a week away, panic has gripped the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) over the fate of its candidates contesting in 45-47 constituencies of which 27-30 are in the fray in coastal Odisha.
Party leaders are perturbed by the disturbing news emerging out of these constituencies during the election campaign. Reports from the ground suggest that the prospects of these candidates are far from satisfactory.
While party candidates have been challenged by rebel candidates contesting as Independents in many of these constituencies, sources in the political circles said the former BJD leader and Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM) chairman Pyari Mohan Mohapatra is moving heaven and hearth to ensure the defeat of the ruling party in about 40 constituencies without bothering about which party or other candidates win from these constituencies.
Panicky at the picture emerging from these constituencies, BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik has asked his confidantes to formulate a strategy to reverse the situation in the few days left for the election.
If reports from various constituencies are to be believed, the prospects of the BJP have brightened considerably in the three Lok Sabha constituencies of Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Bargarh in Western Odisha in recent days. The party has also pinned hopes on the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat.
Considering the situation, the prospects of the BJD in the constituencies coming under these aforesaid Lok Sabha constituencies are not favourable.
Psephologists are of the view that the BJD could lose Loisingha and Balangir Assembly seats while its position is anything but secure in several other western Odisha constituencies like Rourkela, Redhakhol, Deogarh and Bhatli, they said.
The Jeypore Assembly seat in Koraput district has also become a spot of bother for the BJD as the sitting MLA is facing stiff challenge from Bhrugu Buxipatra of BJP and former MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati of the Congress. There are also indications that the Laxmipur and Koraput seats could also slip out of the BJD’s grasp.
The party is also not feeling secure in Gunupur seat in Rayagada, Umerkote and Nabarangpur in Nabarangpur, Phulbani in Kandhamal, Dharamgarh in Kalahandi, and Polasara, Kabisuryanagar and Aska in Ganjam district.
But it is coastal Odisha, supposedly its bastion, which is giving the BJD sleepless nights. The party which had won a whopping 70 out of the total 77 seats in these districts in the 2009 Assembly elections, is now facing a stiff challenge in about 27-30 seats.
The party is likely to lose some constituencies in Cuttack, Puri, Nayagarh and Keonjhar districts that are considered BJD bastions. There are reports that the fate of the BJD candidates in Niali, Satyabadi, Brahmagiri, Kakatpur, Keonjhar Sadar, Telkoi, Patana and Anandpur seats is hanging in balance.
BJD candidates are not feeling safe in several other Assembly constituencies like Aul, Rajnagar, Mahakalapada in Kendrapara district, Baleswar Sadar in Baleswar, Bhandaripokhari, Bhadrak, Dhamnagar and Chadbali in Bhadrak district, Jashipur, Badasahi and Morada in Mayurbhanj district, Khandapada, Nayagarh and Ranpur in Nayagarh district, Jatni, Khordha, Chilika, in Khodha district and Hindol in Dhenkanal district.
In Jagatsinghpur district, two senior BJD leaders Damodar Rout and Bishnu Das are engaged in for a tough fight with rebel candidates, sources said.
Besides, party candidates are apprehensive in Sukinda, Korei and Badachana constituencies.
Sources in the BJD said that the candidates contesting from these constituencies have sent SMSes to the party supremo Naveen Patnaik requesting him to visit their constituency.