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Parties focus on tight seats

Bhubaneswar, March 30: The three major political parties — the BJD, Congress and the BJP — are concentrating on 53 of the 147 Assembly constituencies where their candidates had either won or lost by a margin of less than 10,000 votes in the 2009 election.

Any of these parties can swing the elections in its favour in these segments in the forthcoming polls. Of these 53 constituencies, BJD candidates had won 27 seats and the principal Opposition, Congress, had clinched victory in 18. The BJP, which was almost whitewashed in the last election, managed to win three Assembly seats. While Independent candidates had won four seats, the NCP had captured one.

In four constituencies, it was really close with candidates winning by less than 400 votes. While the candidates have been changed in many of these constituencies where the vote margin is low, those who had won the last election with a high margin are now at a comfortable stage.

While Champua’s sitting MLA Jitu Patnaik, who was denied a ticket this time by the BJD, had won in the 2009 election with the lowest margin of 145 votes, the ruling party’s Bikram Keshari Arukh won the electoral battle in Bhanjanagar of Ganjam district with the highest margin of 73,367 votes.

The other two MLAs who had won the last elections with huge margins are Naveen Patnaik from Hinjili (61,273) and Bhagirathi Badajana from Bhubaneswar North (51,462). This time, Badajena has been shifted to the neighbouring Jatni, giving chance to a newcomer.

Analysis of data reveals that political parties have changed their candidates in the vulnerable constituencies and are now concentrating all their energy campaigning hard.

The five constituencies where fate of the winning candidate was decided by a margin of less than 1,000 votes in 2009 are Champua, Soro, Mohana, Bissam Cuttack and Chitrakonda. In all these constituencies except Bissam Cuttack, all the sitting MLAs irrespective of their party affiliations have been changed with a new face.

“The party has given the right candidates in all the 147 Assembly and 21 Lok Sabha seats,” said Odisha Pradesh Congress president Jaydev Jena.

The existing MLA from Champua, Jitu Patnaik, who won the election by a slender margin of 145 votes and later joined the BJD, did not get a favourable response from the ruling party and was denied a ticket. Instead, the party fielded Odia film star Tatwa Prakash Satpathy, aka, Popu Pom Pom from the seat. He will lock horns with the Congress’s Khetra Mohan Mahanta and BJP’s Girish Chandra Mahanta. Twelve candidates are running for this seat.

In Soro, Congress’s sitting MLA Surendra Prasad Paramanik had won by a margin of 360 votes but the Congress changed him this time and fielded Mrutunjay Jena from the seat. Six candidates are contesting from this constituency including BJD’s Parshuram Dhada and BJP’s Rakesh Kumar Mallick.

The Congress has also changed the sitting MLA from Mohana, Chakradhara Paika, who had won the election by a margin of 917 votes, replacing him with Dasarathi Gamang. The other two main contenders are BJD’s Basanti Mallick and BJP’s Bharat Paika. Nine candidates are in the fray here.

The Congress also replaced sitting MLA from Chitrakonda Mamata Madhi, who won the election by a margin of 260 votes with a new face called Sunadhar Kakari. However, in Bissam Cuttack, the party retained sitting MLA Damburdhar Ullka, who had won the polls by a margin of only 349 votes.

On the other hand, to overcome anti-incumbency factor, the ruling BJD has denied tickets to 35 MLAs. “Besides loyalty, the party has considered the winning capability of a candidate before giving party tickets,” said BJD vice-president Kalpataru Das.


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