Pradeep Pattanayak

Given the fact that tribal and Agharia voters constitute 66 percent of the total voters in the Jharsuguda Assembly constituency; none among the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), and the Congress can afford to ignore them. 

No wonder that they all are putting their best foot forward to woo these voters for the upcoming May 10 Jharsuguda by-election. 

The political parties are well aware that the party which will be able to garner the maximum votes from these two sections will be in a favorable position. 

Tribal voters alone constitute 48 percent of the total voters of the constituency. These voters belonging to Gond, Kisan, Khadia, Kol and Bhuyan tribes mostly live in Kirimira and Laikera blocks. 

Late leader Naba Das, during his political career, had always been enjoying the support of these voters. He used to visit the Jangha Baddeo temple to worship the presiding deity of the Gond Samaj in Laikera block. 

The national conference of Gondwana Gond Mahasabha was held in Jharsuguda on February 11. While the absence of the late leader Das was well felt, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan made his presence felt. The Saffron party is trying to garner more tribal votes by including Amarendra Pratap Singh, the successor of freedom fighter Karunakar Singh Nayak. 

On the other hand, the conch party is counting on turncoat Mahendra Nayak, who switched over from Congress to the BJD, to woo the tribal voters. 

“In the Jharsuguda Assembly constituency, 48 percent of the total voters are tribal voters. And they would cast their votes for the BJD,” said BJD MP, Niranjan Bisi. 

Senior BJP leader Rabi Nayak said, “In the past, Tankadhar Tripathy (BJP’s pick for the Jharsuguda bypoll) fought for the poor, fought to get them pucca houses, fought for tribals. Because of this, they are supporting him.” 

Reasoning why the tribal voters will exercise their franchise for the Congress, senior leader Bhujabal Majhi said, “The tribal voters will vote for the Congress. They know the Congress is for the tribal people.”

The Agharia voters constitute 18 percent of the total voters of the Jharsuguda Assembly constituency. The grand old party’s candidate Tarun Pandey belongs to this caste. So, the party is hopeful that it would garner maximum votes. 

“Since I belong to the Agharia caste, it would help me a lot,” said Pandey. 

On the other hand, the BJD and BJP have made their own strategies to woo these voters. 

“We will get votes from all the sections. They will elect our party. And the Congress party is the ‘B’ team of the Biju Janata Dal,” said BJP candidate, Tankadhar Tripathy. 

Exuding hopes, BJD candidate Dipali Das said, “It is the development that plays a vital role. People are with that party which has brought them development.”

  • Reported by:
  • HARIHARA CHAND , Bhagirathi Sahu