Actress Mahasweta Ray campaigns for the BJD at Goal Ghar in Rourkela. Picture by Uttam Kumar Pal
Rourkela, April 3: The Sundargarh Lok Sabha constituency is witnessing a fierce battle among former chief minister Hemananda Biswal of the Congress, former Union minister Jual Oram of the BJP and hockey star Dillip Tirkey of the BJD.
Biswal, a veteran tribal leader, is fighting hard to retain the seat for the second term. Oram, who had represented the seat for three terms, hopes to wrest it from him. In 2009, Oram had lost to Biswal by a margin of 11,624 votes.
For the BJP, the Lok Sabha seat is a prestigious one. In one of its Assembly segments, Rourkela, former Union minister and industrialist Dilip Ray is the candidate. Ray, who had served the Biju Patnaik government in the 1990s, had won from this seat and is considered an influential leader in Rourkela.
BJP workers are in an upbeat mood as Narendra Modi will visit the city tomorrow to address a campaign meeting. The party hopes the Modi factor will work in a big way in the constituency and all out efforts are being made to bring people from all the Assembly segments and make the rally a big success.
In 2009, the BJD had conceded the seat to CPM as per its electoral alliance. However, this time, former hockey star Dilip Tirkey, who is also a Rajya Sabha Member, has been fielded. A popular youth icon, Tirkey belongs to Sundargarh town. He has been drawing good crowd.
Of the seven Assembly segments, three are with the Congress, two with the BJD, and one with the BJP. One Independent had won from Rajgangpur.
The BJD is relying a lot on the local hero Dilip Tirkey. “The Naveen Patnaik government has done a lot of development works for this area. Local people want the BJD to win. I belong to this place and am better connected with the local people. I am sure of my victory,” Tirkey told The Telegraph.
The BJP’s Juel Oram said: “Modi wave has gripped the entire nation, including Odisha. I will certainly win because people want Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister.”
Of the Assembly segments, Rourkela has become the centre of attraction. Former minister Sarada Prasad Nayak of the BJD, who was in trouble for his proximity with BJD rebel Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, has been given party ticket. This time, he faces a tough challenge from Ray. The Congress has pitted former MLA Pravat Mohapatra.
Among others, the Congress has fielded all its sitting MLAs and also Bonai MLA Bhimsen Choudhury, who had won the seat as a BJP nominee in 2009.