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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Olympians Dilip Tirkey and Prabodh Tirkey take on political challenge in Odisha

While Dilip Tirkey is the BJD candidate for the Sundergarh (ST) Lok Sabha constituency, his junior and former India hockey captain, Prabodh Tirkey is the Congress candidate from the Talsara (ST) Assembly segment also in Sundergarh district

PTI Bhubaneswar Published 14.04.24, 06:38 AM
Dilip Tirkey

Dilip Tirkey File image

They have played captain innings in astroturf while representing the Indian hockey team, but this time they are trying their luck in the electoral battlefield in Sundergarh district, often referred to as the cradle of hockey in Odisha.

They are Hockey India president and former Rajya Sabha MP Dilip Tirkey and ex-Indian hockey team captain Prabodh Tirkey.

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While Dilip Tirkey is the BJD candidate for the Sundergarh (ST) Lok Sabha constituency, his junior and former India hockey captain, Prabodh Tirkey is the Congress candidate from the Talsara (ST) Assembly segment also in Sundergarh district.

Both the BJD and the Congress have picked Dilip Tirkey and Prabodh Tirkey in the electoral battle as Sundergarh is known as the cradle of hockey in the state and the game is very popular among the masses.

According to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, “Hockey is a way of life in tribal-dominated Sundergarh where toddlers start walking with hockey sticks.”

Dilip Tirkey, 46, is pitted against former Union minister and sitting BJP MP Jual Oram from the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat.

“It is good that Dilip is in the fray. He is certainly a master in the hockey field, but I am a seasoned player in politics,” Oram, a five-time MP said, adding that the BJP will retain the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat.

Dilip, who announced his retirement from hockey in 2010 after playing over 400 international matches, is also a former Rajya Sabha MP, claimed Naveen’s popularity along with the BJD government’s good works for the tribals will help him to win the polls.

Both Oram and Dilip had faced each other in the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat earlier in 2014 when the BJP candidate won the seat by a margin of 18,829 votes.

After a gap of 10 years, Tirkey and Oram will face each other again in the electoral field.

While Dilip has started working on a BJD strategy, Oram is visiting the villages across the parliamentary constituency, attending small functions and spending nights in tribal villages.

Dilip and Oram both hail from the tribal community.

The BJD has never won the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat which has been won either by the Congress or BJP.

Oram was elected to Lok Sabha from this seat in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2014 and 2019. “I lost the 2009 elections to Congress’s former chief minister Hemananda Biswal due to a wrong strategy,” Oram said.

Of the seven Assembly segments under the Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency, BJD has two MLAs, BJP three and one seat each is held by the Congress and the CPM.

Talsara is one of the seven Assembly segments under the Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency from where Prabodh has been nominated by the Congress.

The BJP candidate Bhabani Shankar Bhoi won the 2019 Assembly elections in Talsara, a stronghold of the Congress.

Prabodh has announced to bring back the Congress’s lost glory at Talsara. The Congress has won the Talsara Assembly segment in nine out of 12 elections held between 1974 and 2019.

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