Bhubaneswar, April 1: Dynasties are in focus with the sons of as many as five former chief ministers sweating it out in the heat and dust of their constituencies.
Barring chief minister Naveen Patnaik, heir to legendary Biju Patnaik, others appear to be battling heavy odds.
What makes it rather easy for Naveen in Hinjili, the seat he is contesting from for the fourth time in a row, is the relative obscurity of his two main opponents — Sibaram Patra of the Congress and Debananda Mohapatra of the BJP. The people of this high-profile constituency neither know much about these candidates nor do they care to. The chief minister had won the seat last time by a whopping margin of 62,000 votes.
In sharp contrast, Bijayshree Routray, son of Nilamani Routray, who was the state’s chief minister from 1977 to 1980, appears to be struggling in Basudebpur, the coastal seat he has won five times consecutively in the past.
The BJD’s rather indifferent showing in the constituency in the recent municipal elections came as a shock to Routray, who is trying hard to keep his flock together. The veteran, who won the seat last time by a margin of 6,840 votes, against Madhabananda Mallick of the Congress, is leaving no stone unturned to keep save his fortress.
“I am proud of being the son of late Nilamani Routray, who was the chief minister of the state. But, I am a common man contesting these polls. As for the contest, let me say that each election is difficult,” said Routray.
Flamboyant, Tathagat Satpathy, who is caught in a tough triangular contest in the Dhenkanal Lok Sabha constituency, will need every trick he learnt from his mother, Nandini Satpathy, the first woman chief minister of the state, to win the battle. Though there are 12 candidates in all in the constituency, Tathagat’s main challengers are BJP’s Rudra Narayan Pani and Congress’s Sudhir Samal, both formidable opponents.
While Tathagat may take some consolation from the fact that the Congress has become a divided house in Dhenkanal following denial of ticket to K.P. Singh Deo, scion of the local royal family, the BJP cadres are sweating it out for Pani, who has the image of a fighter. He was in the limelight for taking up the cause of the workers who suffered when an accident halted production at the Bhusan Steel Plant last November.
In the last elections against Tathagat’s 3.98 lakh votes and Congress candidate Chandra Sekhar Tripathy’s 2.11 lakh votes, Pani had managed 2.08 lakh. However, this time round he is pinning great hopes on the Modi factor.
“Modi magic will work this time,” quipped Pani, who has been actively organising Narendra Modi’s Chai Pe Charcha programmes in the constituency.
Six-time MLA A.U. Singh Deo, son of Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo, who headed the state in late sixties, is contesting from his traditional seat, Balangir, yet again. This time, however, the battle is going to be tough given the profile of his Congress opponent, former law minister Narasingha Mishra, who has campaigning relentlessly.
Adopted son of legendary Harekrushna Mahatab, four-time MP from Cuttack, Bhartruhari Mahatab, is, ironically, facing a real tough challenge from rookie, Aparajita Mohanty, the Congress candidate.
The cine star, who has just wet her feet in politics, is pulling big crowds which appears to have unnerved the veteran. “She may be new, but she is hard working. Mahtab will find the going tough,” said Pradesh Congress Committee president Jaydev Jena.