Naveen Patnaik to fight Odisha Assembly elections from Kantabanji, and his long-held Hinjili constituency

The BJD appears to have played its biggest trump card to checkmate BJP which had swept western Odisha in 2019 Lok Sabha election

April 17, 2024 02:03 pm | Updated 04:34 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

 Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. File.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. File. | Photo Credit: ANI

In an effort to thwart the Bharatiya Janata Party’s aspirations to replicate its 2019 triumph in the Lok Sabha election in western Odisha, the Biju Janata Dal on April 17 announced to field Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from Kantabanji Assembly constituency in Balangir district.

Mr. Patnaik will now be contesting upcoming Assembly elections from two seats — Hinjili, his long-held seat in his home district of Ganjam and now Kantabanji.

Editorial | Open season: On Odisha politics  

With Odisha’s CM maintaining unprecedented popularity compared to other leaders in the State, the regional party is poised to capitalize on it.

Kantabanji’s strategic position, situated near three Lok Sabha seats in western Odisha—Kalahandi, Balangir, and Bargarh, all claimed by the BJP in 2019—makes it a pivotal choice. As Mr. Patnaik’s tour plans are finalized, his cavalcade will undoubtedly crisscross the heartland of western Odisha.

The Odisha CM had contested from Bijepur, apart from Hinjili, in 2019 election. The location of Bijepur was, however, noted to be at the far end of the region. BJD insiders said that the party intended to leverage Mr. Patnaik’s candidacy momentum across all other western Odisha Lok Sabha constituencies.

Following the successful completion of three major irrigation infrastructure projects, the BJD supremo would be launching a whirlwind tour of the region to further connect with voters. The irrigation projects are — the Gangadhar Meher Lift Irrigation project in Bargarh, Lower Suktel Irrigation Project in Balangir and Upper Indravati Lift Canal system in Kalahandi. Thousands of farmers are benefited by the irrigation projects.

The regional party also swapped candidates announced for Sambalpur and Rairakhol taking winning probability into consideration. Veteran BJD leader Prasanna Acharya would now contest from Railrakhol instead of Sambalpur Assembly seat. He is replaced by Rohit Pujari, former BJD minister. It is to be noted that that both the constituencies come under Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat where Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is pitted against BJD organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das.

In 2019, the saffron party has swept western Odisha winning Kalahandi, Balangir, Bargarh, Sambalpur and Sundargarh Lok Sabha seats. The party does have strong base in the region.

Rabi Das, a leading political commentator, said “the BJD had played its biggest trump card to checkmate BJP in the region. Mr. Patnaik certainly carries the charisma to impact electoral result in Odisha as he has been doing so in past two decades.”

The BJD on Wednesday name candidates for nine assembly seats in the fifth phase announcement. As of now, the party has announced candidate for 126 assembly seats and all 21 Lok Sabha seats in the State. Of the nine candidates named by party, six are women. As of now, BJP has fielded 28 women for assembly election.

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