Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Jajpur, tagged as one of the high-profile Assembly seats in Odisha, is represented by Pranab Prakash Das. As BJD's organizational secretary, he is counted as one of the most influential leaders of the ruling party. 

Pranab has won thrice from this seat by trouncing his opponents. However, if the talks in political circles are anything to go by, there is uncertainty over Pranab being repeated from this seat in the 2024 Assembly Election. In that case, the political equation may take an interesting turn in the upcoming polls with the BJP eagerly and enthusiastically setting its sight on the prestigious seat.  

As per reports, Jajpur is a citadel of Pranab and has been occupied by the ruling BJD since 2000. Pranab has secured a hat-trick victory from the seat.

In 2019, Pranab wielding much political clout in the constituency defeated BJP’s Goutam Ray with a margin of more than 40,000 votes to script his third win in succession. It is said that as no other BJD leader can give a tough fight in the seat, the party may be thinking of fielding Pranab for the fourth time in a row.  

However, speculation is rife that Pranab may prefer another seat to Jajpur in the upcoming election. 

“If Pranab Prakash Das is given the ticket, he will win hands down. Other than Pranab, whoever is fielded by BJD will win convincingly from the seat,” District BJD President Saroj Mohapatra exuded confidence.

BJP has never managed to win the Jajpur seat, but has taken solace in the fact that it overcame Congress to finish second here in the 2019 polls. Party candidate and BJP's district unit president Goutam Roy polled more than 59,000 votes in the last election and the party's vote share was more encouraging than in 2014. Hence, Roy is confident of grabbing a BJP ticket again for the upcoming election.

However, BJP's Yuba Morcha vice-president Sangram Patra is also hopeful of a party ticket. “I am fully confident that with full support from the voters of Jajpur, BJP will win by a margin of more than one lakh votes,” said Roy.

“As a disciplined worker of the party, I will accept any decision to be taken by the party. If the party gives me a ticket, I am fully ready to fight the election,” added Patra. 

On the other hand, following a hat-trick victory after 1951, Congress has never come back to power again in Jajpur. It was a humiliating situation for the party in the last election as its candidate Santosh Kumar Nanda managed to get only 4,745 votes. However, Congress has been committed to fighting from the seat with new vigour in the upcoming election. Congress District President Manoj Rout is among the aspirants to bag party ticket.

“People want a change. Under the circumstances, there will be a tough fight in the upcoming election. Eventually, Congress will come up with flying colours,” said Nanda.

“Many candidates have applied to contest election from Jajpur seat with congress ticket. After analyzing all the aspects carefully, the party will choose a suitable candidate at the right time,” said Rout.

Flood issues to dominate poll narrative 

The residents of Jajpur have been grappling with flood issues for a long time. While Dasarathapur block is often flooded with Baitarani water, floods in Budha and Kharasrota rivers inundate many areas in Jajpur block. More than one lakh people of the constituency are affected due to floods in these three rivers during the rainy season. People residing in the low-lying areas of Dasarathapur block are affected the most. Though the people of the constituency are demanding for a dam in the river near Bichitrapur as a permanent solution to floods, their demands have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Moreover, around 70 percent of people in Jajpur depend upon agriculture to earn their living. However, the absence of cold storage facilities in the area has irked the farmers as they are forced to resort to distress sales for not being able to store their produces. They have expressed their resentment over the development.