Report by Malaya Mohapatra; Keonjhar: Although there are 8 candidates for the keonjhar Loksabha (ST) seat, weak hold of congress has resulted in strong contest between the BJD and BJP in the 2019 polls. The Ex Congress MP candidate cum ex Champua MLA Dharurjay Sidhu has been rewarded with a BJP MLA candidate ticket for Telkoi while Congress ex MP Madhab Sardar is the new BJD candidate for keonjhar Assembly seat after they quit congress. Many other congress leaders like Sanatan Mahakud, Jitu Pattnaik have left the congress party in the meantime and have joined BJD. Mohan Hembram, a new face, is contesting as the congress MP candidate.
Sitting Champua MLA Sanatan Mahakud has succeeded in getting one of his supporter Chandrani Murmu as the BJD candidate. She is the grand daughter of Ex MP Harihar Soren but has just been enrolled in the party. The BJD party workers who have strong difference with Sanatan and yet to be introduced to their new MP candidate. But they have to campaign for their party for the sake of their supremo Naveen Pattnaik. MP ticket aspirants from the party are unable to digest their rejection inspite of working as disciplined party workers for years.
BJP may take advantage of this situation. Ananta Nayak, the BJP candidate contesting for the fifth time had served two terms as MP during the BJD BJP alliance. Ex Congress leader Jaswant Singh Laguri and his wife Sakuntala Laguri had won on a BJD ticket after they quit congress in the last two terms but their inactiveness and involvement in corruption deprived them from the party ticket this time.
Claiming 40 developmental achievements starting from bringing railways and passenger trains to keonjhar, construction of National Highways, central school, EPF division office etc during his term, Ananta is hoping to win this election with the favorable Modi wave in the country. The image of Naveen Pattnaik and his popular welfare schemes will attract voters to support the BJD candidate, Ashish Chakraborty BJD leader claims.
Additionally, the millionaire Sanatan Mahakud who has created a pocket vote by paying monthly pension privately to thousands of families across the district will add votes to the BJD vote bank. National president Amit Shah and other national leaders are on election campaign in the district, Naveen Pattnaik himself is the star campaigner for his candidates. In 2014 election Sakuntala Laguri from BJD had secured 434471 votes while Ananta Nayak (BJP) has got only 277184 votes. As the Assembly and parliament election is being held simultaneously, the lead in assembly election in the 7 assembly segments will influence the victory of the MP candidate.