Himansu Shekhar Rout

After Rahul Gandhi’s frontal attack on the BJD government during his Salipur rally, the Congress in Odisha seems to be quite enthused and has laid its focus on southern Odisha, an old fort of the party.

The party is reportedly working on its strategy to win back some Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the southern region.

As a part of the strategy, the grand old party has lined up prominent and veteran leaders like Priyanka Gandhi, AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge and Telangana Chief Minister Revanth Reddy, who will hit the campaign trail for their party nominees in the south, where a major chunk of the electorate are Telugu speaking people. 

As per reports, Rahul Gandhi is again coming to Odisha on May 3. He will campaign for his party candidates in Rayagada which along with Koraput, Nabarangpur, Berhampur and Kalahandi is going to polls in the first phase in Odisha.  

Veteran Congress leader and chairman of the Congress Campaign Committee, Bhakta Charan Das said, "Rahul ji has a meeting in Rayagada, a tribal-dominated area. Priyanka Gandhi will take part in a meeting in Nabarangpur. Revanth Reddy will also come.”     

In 2019, Congress could not fare well in South Odisha. The party won the Koraput Lok Sabha and three Assembly seats. Saptagiri Ulaka won the LS seat while Taraprasad Bahinipati was elected from the Jeypore Assembly seat, Dasarathi Gamang from Mohana and Adhiraj Panigrahi from the Khariar seat.

However, the grand old party failed to open its account in Nabarangpur. In the 2019 elections, Congress got only 25 per cent of votes in south Odisha, but this time, the party is trying to increase its vote share to 50 per cent. 

On the other hand, the BJP is also eyeing South Odisha. 

As for BJP National President JP Nadda’s visit to Berhampur, Jeypore legislator Taraprasad Bahinipati said, "Nadda’s visit will have no impact. The BJP had not opened the account and has no chance to open it. Their engine has failed. People will not accept the ideology of the BJP.”  

However, former Congress leader Pradeep Majhi, who is contesting from the Nabarangpur LS seat on a BJD ticket, asserted that his party will win in most seats like Kalahandi, Koraput, Nabarangpur and Berhampur because it is in the hearts of the people. The attempts by other parties to brainwash people will not be effective.”   

Political analyst Prasanna Mohanty said, "Congress got success in Telangana. Congress is trying to do that experiment in South Odisha. Congress wants to make inroads into South Odisha. That was reflected in the speech of Rahul Gandhi.”

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