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BJD in snatch bid

Berhampur, April 2: The BJD is sparing no efforts to capture the Sanakhemundi Assembly constituency, the only constituency in Ganjam district which was won by the Congress last time.

The party has fielded Nandini Devi of Dharakote royal family for the seat. Nandini Devi's late husband Kishore Chandra Singh Deo had represented the seat in the Assembly as a BJP nominee in 2004 and had lost to Congress nominee Ramesh Chandra Jena by a margin of over 23,000 votes.

In Ganjam district, the BJD had won 11 seats and its poll partner CPI had won one seat.

Though Nandini has entered the battle for ballots for the first time, her family members have been active in politics. Her husband won the seat in 2004, her mother-in-law Shanti Devi had represented the seat in 1990. Her father-in-law A.N. Singh Deo had won a series of elections — in 1967, 1971 and 1977 — from erstwhile Sorada seat. He was a minister in the state and was also a Member of the Lok Sabha.

“Service to the people of the area has been the motto of our family and I intend to fulfil the dreams of my husband through the blessings of chief minister Naveen Patnaik,” Nandini told The Telegraph.

Forty-six-year-year old Nandini was being assisted in her campaign by her two daughters, including 18-year old Sulakhyana Gitanjali Devi who was crowned the symbolic King of Dharakote in 2010 following the death of her father. They are staging road shows in a car. People recollect the royal familiy’s contributions and fondly call her “Rajmata”.

While the BJD is whipping up the sympathy factor, the BJP has fielded Bira Kishore Deo, a scion of Pudamari royal family. “We have nominated a royal family member to a give strong challenge to the Congress,” said a senior BJP leader.

During the 2009 elections, Ramesh Jena of Congress polled 50, 487 votes (50.35 percent), Kishore Chandra Singh Deo of the BJP 26,894 votes (26.82) and N. Narayan Reddy of the CPI (an ally of BJD) had secured 15, 023 votes.

This time, there are six candidates in the fray. They are Ramesh Chandra Jena (Congress), Nandini Devi (BJD), Bir Kishore Dev (BJP), Antaryami Swain (CPI), Sirish Chandra Mishra (BSP) and K. Ramesh Kumar Dora (AAP).