Vikash Sharma

With heat already building up ahead of the crucial 2024 elections, Odisha is all set to witness an interesting battle between ‘Guru and Sishya’. We are talking about the Berhampur Assembly seat which will witness a fight between BJD’s veteran leader Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik and his once disciple (Sishya) K Anil Kumar who is contesting against the former on BJP ticket.

K Anil Kumar was representative for the then MLA Patnaik for a long time. Kumar had snapped ties with the BJD following resentment after 2018. Earlier Kumar was elected as councillor twice as an independent candidate in 2003 and 2008.

On the other hand, Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik is well known for his organisation skills and has been a MLA for five times, including one term from Janata Dal.

As Kumar was closely associated with the senior BJD leader, he is aware of the strategies of the party, organisational strength and weakness as well.

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What Both The Leaders Say?

“I don’t feel any fight between Guru and Sishya. Ample scope was provided to K Anil Kumar to work here. As he is now in BJP camp, there will be fight,” said Patnaik.

In his reaction, K Anil Kumar said, “I was a disciplined worker and worked as per instructions. In 2014, responsibility was given to me for election management and it was during that time when Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik was campaigning on a wheel chair. I had supervised the entire polls and won the seat.”

Kumar said that after 2019 elections, the party (BJD) sidelined him.

“I had joined politics to serve people and I have no other intention,” said Kumar.

What Statistics Say?

On Berhampur Assembly seat, BJP is yet to taste victory. The party was earlier in fourth position and now climbed to number 2 spot. The position of BJP has strengthened now after Pradeep Panigarhi joined the party recently. He has been roped in as party’s Berhampur Lok Sabha candidate for the 2024 election.

It is pertinent to mention here that Berhampur was a Congress bastion and later went to BJD. However, in the last election, BJP’s vote share increased tremendously.

In 2019, BJD had given ticket to Bikram Panda, who had joined the party after quitting Congress. This time Panda will contest from Gopalpur.

What Voters Say?

A local resident said, “This election has witnessed a lot of party swapping and we do not see any ideology. We will vote for the party which will improve the education sector here. In Berhampur and other parts, no permanent lecturers or teachers are being appointed in colleges. Be it BJD, Congress or BJP candidates, we will vote who will give assurances in this regard.”

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