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Five Cuttack MLAs eyeing berth

Correspondent

Prominent hopefuls include Kalindi Behera, Devi Mishra, Pravat Tripathy and Pratap Jena



The district had got a better deal when BJD-BJP alliance romped home in 2000

First-timer Pramod Mallick, who quit professor post, also hoping for berth



CUTTACK: People of Cuttack district have constantly rallied behind BJD ever since it was formed in 1998 by sending maximum number of legislators to the Assembly. But they have always got a raw deal when government formation comes into count as few of its legislators get ministerial berth.

After being grossly ignored in 2004, people here are hopeful of getting a better deal this time as all the nine seats of the district have gone in favour of BJD, including that of party-supported independent MLA from Athagarh.

The district however had got a better deal when BJD-BJP alliance romped home in 2000. Nine of the 10 legislators of the district were from the alliance. Besides BJP legislator Samir Dey, four BJD MLAs—Kalindi Behera, Devi Mishra, Ranendra Pratap Swain and Panchanan Kanungo were made ministers for brief periods. Of course Mahanga MLA Sarat Kar was made Speaker that time.

Similarly, in 2004, at least seven seats of the district went in favour of the alliance and later the lone independent legislator from Cuttack Sadar pledged his support to BJD. But the district was grossly ignored as only two MLAs got ministerial berth, including that of Dey of BJP. The other one being BJD senior leader Kalindi Behera of Salepur. In due course however, Behera was thrown out of the cabinet and much later Mishra of Badamba was taken back in the government.

But this time around when people in large number threw their weight behind the regional party for third consecutive time and elected all party nominees of the district to the Assembly, it is hoped that at least five district MLAs would get ministerial berth.

Prominent hopefuls lobbying hard to become ministers include veteran Kalindi Behera who won from the Cuttack Sadar segment, Badamba MLA Devi Mishra, Banki MLA Pravat Tripathy and Mahanga MLA Pratap Jena. This is Behera’s fifth term in the Assembly after he won from Salepur segment in 1977, 1990, 2000 and 2004.

Similarly Mishra has been returned from Badamba during last four terms since 1995 while Tripathy had been winning from Banki since 1995 barring 2004 polls when he lost to Congress candidate Debashis Patnaik.

Pratap Jena, who had won the 2000 and 2004 elections from Kissan Nagar, has again made his entry into the Assembly this time, winning the Mahanga seat by defeating a senior Congress leader Sk Matlub Ali. All these leaders are banking on their experiences to get ministerial berth

Giant-killer

Likewise giant killer Debashis Samantray of BJD who won from the prestigious Cuttack-Barabati seat by dethroning former BJP minister Samir Dey and Congress heavyweight Suresh Mohapatra is also eying a berth in the Naveen Patnaik’s Cabinet mainly for his closeness to BJD strategist Pyari Mohan Mohapatra. Samantray had first entered the Assembly in 2000 after defeating the then Congress heavyweight Basant Biswal from Tirtol segment.

When all these experienced legislators are eying ministerial berth, first timer Dr Pramod Mallick who won from Niali segment of the district after quitting the plum post of surgery professor of SCB medical college, is also hopeful of getting the health portfolio.

However, Cuttack-Choudwar legislator Pravat Biswal is unlikely to be considered for any ministerial berth as his wife Laxmi Bilasini Biswal is already Zilla Parishad Chairperson of Cuttack district. More so, Mr. Biswal was taken into the party fold very recently just few days prior to the elections and he is still considered a fresher in BJD.

But party workers feel Mr. Biswal could be an asset to the party for his organizational acumen and could be better utilized for the party work in the district.

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