Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

As strong candidates from the BJP and the Congress are in the fray in the Digapahandi Assembly seat under Berhampur Parliamentary Constituency, it may not be a smooth sailing for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) which is also battling with internal squabbles. 
A total of 1,87,134 voters in the Assembly constituency will decide the fate of the candidates in the upcoming election in Digapahandi which was formed in 2009. The Assembly constituency in Ganjam district covers Digapahandi block, Digapahandi Notified Area Council and Kukudakhandi block. 

Since the formation of the constituency, BJD has dominated the elections with late Surjya Narayan Patro registering a hat-trick of victories from the seat. Patro also went on to occupy important portfolios like Minister and Speaker in the Odisha Legislative Assembly.

Following the demise of Patro, BJD has fielded his son Biplab Patro as its candidate for the seat for the upcoming Assembly election. However, it appears that this election won't be a cakewalk for Biplab as he is locking horns with BJP candidate and two-time MP from Berhampur- Sidhant Mohapatra and Congress candidate Shreedhar Dev who is a member of the royal family.  Even though there were many aspiring MLA candidates for the seat, BJP gave ticket to veteran Ollywood actor Sidhant.

As per reports, the vote percentage of BJD reduced in the 2019 General Election as compared to the previous elections. While the ruling party bagged 54.66 per cent vote in 2019, BJP garnered 25.19 per cent. This time, it seems Surjya’s legacy is not working for his son Biplab as BJD is currently grappling with inner squabbles in the constituency. Expressing dissatisfaction over Biplab’s candidature from the ruling party, former Digapahandi Block president and BJD leader Bipin Pradhan has recently joined BJP along with his huge supporters.

Meanwhile, political experts observed that BJD is likely to face an anti-incumbency factor in its forte. 

However, candidates of all political parties have exuded confidence that they will perform better in the upcoming election.

“The main problems of Digapahandi residents were irrigation facilities to their lands and drinking water facilities at their houses. My father fought for it for the last 32 years and he eventually got success. BJD used to bag around 67 per cent of total votes in the constituency. I am confident that the vote share will increase this time,” said Biplab Patro.

“People of Odisha want a change. PM Narendra Modi-led BJP will script a landslide victory in the centre. We are also confident that people of Odisha will vote in support of BJP in the upcoming election and our party will come up with flying colours,” said Sidhant Mohapatra.

“Digapahandi is devoid of proper healthcare facilities. We don’t have also proper irrigation facilities in our area. We will approach people with their problems. I am hopeful that the residents of Digapahandi will bless their son of the soil and ensure victory for Congress,” said Shreedhar Dev.