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Pradeep Pattanayak

Hira Nayak of Pratap Purushottampur village in Puri district emerged victorious in the recently concluded Panchayat elections. She won the seat of Panchayat Samiti member by a slender margin of four votes. 

Hira’s father is a daily wager and the family lives in a polythene sheet draped dilapidated hut. Despite the financial hardship and obstacles, she completed her Plus II and is now pursuing 3rd year in Plus III courses. 

Asked what prompted her to join politics, Hira said it was the sufferings of her fellow villagers in the aftermath of cyclone ‘Fani’ that made take the decision to change their lives. So, politics was the obvious choice. “The Biju Janata Dal-backed candidate lost the election here despite spending money like water. On the other hand, a poor girl like me has won the election without spending even a pie. I believe it is the blessings of the God,” Hira said matter-of-factly.  

She took the opportunity to revisit the promises she made to people as a contestant. “I had promised my villagers to give them better road, access to clean drinking water and houses. I will deliver on my promises,” Hira said confidently.

Like Hira, another greenhorn is T. Sridhar who has won as Zilla Parishad member post from Ramanaguda zone-I in Rayagada district. He earns his livelihood by selling vegetables. “I am always available to help people in trouble. This has endeared me to them. I will never let them down,” said Sridhar, who contested on a Congress ticket. 

Before the election verdict was announced, Lipika Majhi was known as a dentist. From now onwards, she will be known as a politician as she has won from Papadahandi Zilla Parishad zone-II in Nabarangpur district. She contested the election on a Congress ticket. 

Daughter of former MLA Bhujabal Majhi, Lipika ascribed her victory to her father’s legacy and love and affection of the tribal people in her locality. “I have been serving people as a dentist. But serving people as a politician will give me more happiness. I will try my level best to solve the problems in my area,” said Lipika. 

Another much discussed face among the elected candidates is Ramakant Baral. He has won the Samiti member seat from Nrutang Panchayat in Cuttack district. Baral is the son of BJP leader Kulamani Baral, one of deceased in the sensational Mahanga double murder incident last year. He defeated his nearest rival by a margin of 600 votes.  

“I would like to thank the people in my Panchayat for giving me a chance to serve them. Like my father, I will fight against corruption and work for the people,” said Baral.

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