| Ramaraman Sarangi campaigns with his wife in Cuttack. Picture by Badrika Nath Das |
Well-known cardiologist, 66-year-old Ramaraman Sarangi, a veteran Santosh Trophy soccer player of Odisha in the late 1960s, has thrown his hat into the ring for Barabati-Cuttack as an Independent candidate.
Whether his “politics needs intelligentsia to make it corruption free” slogan will translate into votes remain to be seen, but he has added a new dimension to the battle for this prestigious Assembly seat from where BJD’s Debashis Samantaray is seeking re-election.
Sarangi has been campaigning extensively along with his gynaecologist wife Sarojini to solicit support.
“Cuttack is an old city with crumbling urban infrastructure. It has not got the desired attention due an apparently ineffective political representation. Its an irony that Cuttack was not included in the central government Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, but Bhubaneswar and Puri were. So, I am asking them to give me a chance to represent them,” the doctor said.
“I expect the voters to respond as I have served them in my 25 years of uninterrupted service at the SCB Medical College and Hospital and thereof after retirement. And more so, I want to now switch from curing asustha manisha (sick man) to healing asustha samaja (sick society),” he said.
Sitting BJD MLA Debasish Samantaray, 54, a graduate, was elected from Tirtol under Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency in 2000, but lost the seat in 2004. He was fielded by his party from Barabati Cuttack in 2009 after his constituency was declared reserved under delimitation exercise.
Though he was projected before the electorate as an “outsider”, Samantary emerged as a giant killer as he trounced Samir Dey, a BJP heavyweight and former minister, who had won consecutively from the city in the three previous polls.
“The focus of my campaign is commitment to maintain the pace of all-round progress and development of the city that has been initiated in the past five years by the BJD government,” said Samantaray.
Samantaray has been campaigning through locality meetings along with party MP Bhatruhari Mahtab, who is seeking re-election from the Cuttack Lok Sabha seat after winning four times in a row and ward-to-ward foot marches.
Congress candidate Mohammed Moquim feels that his party is better placed this time to win the seat compared to 2009. “We hope to wrest the seat from the BJD this time riding a wave of anti-incumbency,” says Moquim, who is also the president of the Cuttack City Congress unit.
Moquim has been concentrating on door-to-door campaigns and locality meetings along with Aparajita, Congress Cuttack Lok Sabha candidate.
The BJP has fielded a former party Cuttack district unit president Pradip Swain after giving the Cuttack Lok Sabha ticket to Samir Dey. “Apart from highlighting failure of the BJD government to implement major projects initiated more than five years ago, we are trying to cash in on the Narendra Modi wave sweeping most parts of the country,” said Swain.
The Aam Aadmi Party has fielded Shaik Muntaqeem Buksh for the seat.