NF Bureau: The media and political pundits seem to have written off the Congress, saying there is no scope for its revival in Odisha. However, Congress may spring a surprise in several Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the State while BJD and BJP fight it out to gain supremacy.
Neither any political analysts nor pollsters gave a single seat to Congress in Lok Sabha poll predictions. The numbers were always divided between BJD and BJP without even taking the Congress into account. But, the game has changed in the last few weeks after the declaration of candidates by all the parties. Congress has a much better chance in at least 3-4 Lok Sabha seats in Odiisha if we analyse things.
In Nabarangpur, Congress candidate and former MP Pradeep Majhi holds an edge over his rivals – sitting MP Balabhadra Majhi (who recently joined BJP after being denied a ticket) and Odisha Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi (BJD). Balabhadra, who lacks mass appeal and public outreach, will mostly rely on ‘Modi Magic’ and BJP’s organisational strength. Ramesh is definitely popular in the district, but Pradeep has a better outreach, as he has been working hard in both Nabarangpur and Malkangiri as well Kotpad constituency, which fall under Nabarangpur Parliamentary constituency. BJP’s rise in Nabrangpur district, may spell trouble for the BJD more than the Congress. It won’t be a surprise if Pradeep sails through on the basis of core Congress votes as well as the good rapport he has built with the people over the years.
In Kalahandi, Bhakta Charan Das is emerging as a dark horse in the high-voltage contest between BJP candidate Basant Panda and BJD candidate Pushpendra Singhdeo. BJD has done a lot of ground work in the district in the last 3 years, thanks to Sujeet Kumar, who is close to both Naveen and Pandian. However, BJP’s rise in the district and the ‘Modi Factor’ may split the votes, while Bhakta Charan Das is confident of retaining the core tribals and dalit votes in the region. The latest incident at Vedanta’s Lanjigarh unit, may work in Bhakta’s favour. BJD may be relegated to third spot in Kalahandi District because of poor candidate selection. Pushpendra is not the right candidate to take on Basant and Bhakta, it is believed.
In Sundargarh, George Tirkey is going to play the role of giant killer. A stalwart in the region, he had joined the Congress late last year. Although BJD roped in Congress Veteran Hemananda Biswal’s daughter Sunita Biswal for the Lok Sabha seat, his other daughter Amita is contesting the assembly polls on Congress ticket. George has tremendous influence in the region. While Jual Oram and Sunita Biswal fight it out, George Tirkey may upset all calculations.
Apart from these seats, Congress has good prospects in Koraput Lok Sabha seat, as it has fielded an educated youth with clean image – Saptagiri Ulaka. If Congress really does well in these Lok Sabha segments, it may win good number of seats contrary to all expectations by adding more in the Coastal, Northern and Western regions. Predictions of numbers remain a tough task for any political party in such a high voltage competition. But, surprises are part and parcel of politics. Did anyone even imagine about such a massive win for Congress in Chhattisgarh?
The wait and watch game continues…