Pradeep Pattanayak

With the 2024 Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly elections approaching fast, the political atmosphere in Dasapalla has already started to heat up. 

Dasapalla is an Assembly constituency of Nayagarh district and one of the seven Assembly segments under the Kandhamal Parliamentary seat. Once regarded as a fortress of the Congress, Dasapalla has been in the thrall of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) since 2009. 

Incumbent MLA Ramesh Chandra Behera is one among the many aspirants who wish to contest the elections on a BJD ticket. Behera has strong reasons to aspire for a ticket. In the 2019 elections, he defeated Purna Chandra Nayak, fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), by a margin of over 35,000 votes and, at the same time, ensured his party’s third consecutive win. He is also the party’s district president. 

If the past three elections are examined, the party has never repeated an old candidate. If the party goes for its same formula, ten to one, a new candidate will be fielded. Besides Behera, social activist Srihari Nayak and Dr Rabindra Sethi, who works at a mining company, are also in the race. 

“It is certain that the Biju Janata Dal will repeat its record here,” said Dasapalla MLA Ramesh Chandra Behera. 

Social activist Nayak said, “I am working for the society. I will serve the society better if I get a ticket.”

Also Read: Odisha Elections 2024: Can a tenacious BJP taste victory in Dharmagarh seat this time?

This time, it is believed that the saffron party will give a tough contest to the ruling conch party. Its candidate Purna Chandra Nayak, a former MLA, secured 39,715 votes in 2019 and the party's vote percentage increased from 13 percent in 2014 to 30 percent. Hence, Nayak is seen as the main contender to get the BJP ticket. 

At the same time, it is also being discussed that BJP district Adivasi Morcha president, Raghab Mallick and state executive member Manoj Behera are also in the race. 

“It is a fact that there is more than one aspirant. The party will take the final call and choose a candidate, who can win,” said Purna Chandra Nayak. 

Raghab Mallick said, “I will accept whatever decision the party will take. I am sure that the party will take the decision in my favour.”

“I have been with the party, its activities, and the people. So I hope the party will give me a ticket this time,” said Manoj Behera.
There was a time when Dasapalla constituency was regarded as the Congress’ impregnable fortress. The grand old party had won eight times from here. For the last time, Harihar Karan was elected from here in 2000. 

In 2019, party candidate Prashant Kumar Nayak managed to secure only 7,949 votes.  This time, besides Nayak, Abhisekh Dalabehera and Dasapalla block Congress president Narayan Sahu are in the race for a ticket. 

“This time, people are aware of the secret relationship between the BJD and the BJP. So they have made up their mind to vote the Congress to power,” said Ranjit Dash, District Congress president. 

MLAs are changing but not people’s fate 

The issues that have been dominating the political narrative revolve around development. The voters of this tribal-dominated area alleged that the promises of development made to them have remained pipedreams. Here MLAs are changing but not our fate, they alleged. 

What voters say 

“For the poor and daily labourers, we want to have a good MLA. We don’t want contractor-friendly MLA. We want such an MLA who can feel our problems and take steps to address them,” said Pramod Kumar Pradhan, a voter. 
“There is none to be worthy of our MLA. We want an MLA of the ilk of Harihara Karan,” rued Trinath Maharana, another voter.

  • Reported by:
  • Sanjeeb Sahoo