Himansu Shekhar Rout

Even as speculations are rife about Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan's choice of constituency in the 2024 General Elections in Odisha, some of his party legislators from western Odisha have thrown their weight behind him and suggested Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency as the safe place for him. 

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has reportedly started its groundwork to broaden its base for the upcoming elections across the state, the latest development has hung the political future of the incumbent MP Nitesh Ganga Deb in balance. 

Notably, BJP stalwart and Leader of Opposition Jaynarayan Mishra and party legislator Nauri Nayak had earlier pointed to the Sambalpur LS seat as the safest one for the Union Minister, thus undermining discussions that Pradhan would explore electoral possibilities in the Dhenakanal LS seat.   

The latest one to strongly advocate Sambalpur seat for the Union Minister is Deogarh MLA, Subash Panigrahi, who has stiffly opposed the candidature of present MP Nitesh Ganga Deb. Panigrahi also alleged that the MP’s popularity has declined as the latter has not worked for the people. The people in Sambalpur are disenchanted with the MP, the MLA claimed.

Panigrahi also asserted that whoever will contest against Dharmendra Pradhan in Sambalpur will certainly bite the dust while his party will perform well in western Odisha.    

While the BJP is reportedly laying focus on western Odisha, Panigrahi has claimed that if Dharmendra contests the election from Sambalpur, the party will gain electorally in the western region.

On the other hand, keeping this development in view, the Biju Janata Dal(BJD) has gone on an overdrive, initiating its counter strategy. BJD's organizational secretary, Pranab Prakash Das on Thursday visited Sambalpur where he held a closed-door meeting with party cadres to strengthen the party organisation.

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