Pradhan’s electoral comeback in focus as six Lok Sabha, 42 Assembly seats vote in Odisha

The Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat, from where Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is contesting against BJD heavyweight Pranab Prakash Das, has garnered immense attention this election season

Updated - May 24, 2024 10:04 am IST

Published - May 22, 2024 10:48 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Union Minister and BJP candidate from Sambalpur Dharmendra Pradhan blesses a child during an election campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, at Bhojpur in Sambalpur on May 22, 2024.

Union Minister and BJP candidate from Sambalpur Dharmendra Pradhan blesses a child during an election campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, at Bhojpur in Sambalpur on May 22, 2024. | Photo Credit: ANI

The sixth and penultimate phase of the ongoing Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha is set to decide the fate of politicians in six Lok Sabha and 42 Assembly seats with both the BJP and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) trying to outsmart each other in the intense campaign.

Sixty-four candidates are contesting for the Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Puri, Cuttack, Dhenkanal and Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seats that go to the polls on May 25; 383 candidates are in the fray for the Assembly seats in this phase in which 94,34,095 people will exercise their voting rights.

All eyes are on Sambalpur where Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is contesting against the BJD’s organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das. Mr. Pradhan, returning to direct elections after 15 years, is being met with stiff resistance from the BJD. The duel is being widely perceived as a proxy battle between the leadership of the two parties.

Follow LIVE updates from the Lok Sabha elections on May 22, 2024

Of late, the Puri seat has garnered a lot of attention from where BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra is up against the BJD’s Arup Patnaik, a former Mumbai Police Commissioner. While campaigning, Mr. Patra’s comment that Lord Jagannath is a devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has triggered uproar across the country. Despite Mr. Patra tendering an apology, the controversy has not died down yet.

Six-time MP Bhartruhari Mahatab, who had joined the BJP after severing his long association with the BJD, is fighting against BJD candidate and corporate leader Santrupta Misra from Cuttack. Mr. Mishra has declared assets worth Rs 482.2 crore and is by far the richest candidate in the fray.

The prestigious Bhubaneswar seat will be fought hard between the BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi, a former IAS officer and sitting MP, and the BJD’s Manmath Routray, who is making his electoral debut. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has so far held three roadshows in the city signifying the importance he is attaching to the seat. The Chief Minister has questioned the performance of Ms. Sarangi who, in turn, has retorted by criticising previous BJD MPs from the State capital.

In the Assembly elections, Ministers Ashok Panda, Prafulla Mallick and Ranendra Pratap Swain are in the fray. In the run-up to this phase, the BJP has deployed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to campaign. Besides, party president J. P. Nadda and Chief Ministers of three BJP-ruled States have campaigned. For the BJD, the Naveen Patnaik and his close aide V. K. Pandian have done most of the canvassing.

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