scorecardOdisha's Silk city and its two turncoats to battle it out this Lok Sabha election
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Odisha's Silk city and its two turncoats to battle it out this Lok Sabha election

Odisha's Silk city and its two turncoats to battle it out this Lok Sabha election
PoliticsPolitics3 min read
Berhampur, This southern Odisha town in Ganjam district which is also known as the silk city of Odisha will witness a battle between two turncoats in the Lok Sabha elections. The ruling Biju Janata Dal headed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has fielded Bhrugu Baxipatra, who till last week was vice president of the BJP Odisha unit while the BJP has put up Pradeep Panigrahy, who was expelled from the BJD, as its nominee for the Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency.

Panigrahpy, a three-time MLA from Gopalpur Assembly constituency was once a close aide of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and even looked after the Ganjam district affairs of the regional party, before being expelled from the BJD.

The Congress has fielded Rashmi Ranjan Patnaik for the Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency.

The Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency was once a strong citadel of the Congress and even Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao had won the Berhampur Lok Seat seat in the 1996 elections.

Ganjam district has been a BJD bastion since 2009. The district is also the home district to Naveen Patnaik's Assembly constituency, Hinjili. BJD has won 12 of the 13 Assembly seats in the district in 2019 elections.

The fight for the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat will be mainly between two turncoats Bhrugu Baxipatra of BJD and Pradeep Panigrahy of the BJP though the Congress nominee is also in the fray.

Panigrahy was expelled from the BJD on charge of "anti-people activities" and was also arrested on alleged corruption cases by the Naveen Patnaik government.

The BJP candidate in his public meetings is telling the people 'Etha ra Leka Chhi Da e Deba' (This time will end the chapter). The Gopalpur MLA is asking the electorate the end their inclination towards Naveen Patnaik, who he accused of running the government through outsourcing manner.

Panigarhy is also trying to invoke Ganjam sentiment among the people as his rival Baxipatra's activities were mostly confined to the neighbouring Rayagada district before moving to Ganjam in 2019.

To defeat Panigrahy, BJD has picked up BJP's former Berhampur nominee Baxipatra with the sole intention of capturing a certain portion of saffron votes. Both parties are fighting hard to win the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat, which is considered the gateway to southern Odisha.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's close aide and BJD leader VK Pandian in a meeting in Bhubaneswar on Sunday appealed to people to vote for the Conch symbol of the regional party.

"Please do not see who is a candidate. The chief minister is contesting in all the 147 assembly seats and 21 Lok Sabha constituencies," Pandian said appealing to people to look at Patnaik and Conch symbol alone while going to vote.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections BJD candidate Chandrasekhar Sahu had won the Berhampur Lok Sabha by 94,000 votes defeating his BJP opponent Bhrugu Baxipatra.

Apart from voters, the party workers of both the political parties at the grassroots level also seem to be confused. "We have to campaign for the candidate whom we had strongly opposed last time (2019 LS election)," said a BJD worker from Ganjam district.

The seven Assembly constituencies under the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat are - Chhatrapur, Gopalpur, Berhampur, Digapandi and Chikita in Ganjam district and Mohana and Parlakhemundi in neighbouring Gajapati district. Of the seven, five seats in Ganjam district are held by the ruling BJD while Mohana and Parlakhemundi are represented by Congress and BJP respectively in the Assembly.

Berhampur Lok Sabha seat will go to polls along with three other Lok Sabha constituencies Nabarangpur, Koraput and Kalahandi on May 13.