By Subrat Das*
Bhubaneswar: Will Champua Assembly constituency in the mineral-rich Keonjhar district, which has sent three independents in the recent past, will spring any other surprise this time? This question haunts the minds of people who maintain election records.
Ruling Biju Janata Dal had kept the aspirants and the voters of this tribal-dominated constituency in suspense till last moment. It announced its candidate late last night and of course with a surprise. The ruling party announced the name of Minakshi Mahanta, a new face. The name of BJD leader, Kusha Apat, who had contested the 2014 assembly elections as a BJD rebel, was doing the rounds in the local party circles. Apat’s suspension was withdrawn by the party recently.
However, the BJD high command announced the name of Minakshi and surprisingly, Independent MLA of Champua Sanatan Mahakud threw his weight behind her. Present during her filing of nomination papers today, Mahakud said, “I am not in the BJD. However, I am supporting the candidature of Minakshi to ensure completion of projects initiated during my tenure”. Mahakud, who is much talked about over his assets, was facing many cases.
Mahakud had won 2014 assembly election as an Independent securing 69,635 votes. He had defeated his nearest rival another independent Kusha Apat, who had bagged 54,957 votes. BJD’s official candidate popular actor Tatwa Prakash Satpathy aka Pappu Pom Pom finished third with only 10, 233 votes.
This time, Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded veteran leader Murali Manohar Sharma, who had secured third position in 2009 assembly elections by bagging 18,881 votes. Congress has set up Bidyadhar Barik, a new face.
Independent Jitu Patnaik had won the seat by securing 27,700 votes defeating his nearest Congress rival Sanatan Mahakud.
Earlier in 2000, veteran BJD leader and former minister Saharai Oram had been elected to Assembly as an independent by defeating Madhab Sardar of Congress by 5,236 votes.
However, the constituency had seen hide and seek between the Congress and non-Congress parties during the period since 1977. While Congress had occupied the seat in 1985, 1995 and 2004, non-Congress parties had won in 1977, 1980 and 1990. For the first time, BJP had secured second position in 2004 by securing 28, 757 votes.
The writer is a journalist currently working with Sambad Group as Consultant Editor of Group Digital Edition.