Odishatv Bureau

Koraput Lok Sabha seat, consisting of seven Assembly segments- Gunupur (ST), Bissam Cuttack (ST), Rayagada (ST), Laxmipur (ST), Jeypore, Koraput (SC), and Pottangi (ST), is likely to see a triangular contest in the upcoming election.

Koraput LS seat has been a stronghold of the Congress, but it was breached only twice during Lok Sabha polls- 2009 and 2014. Significantly, the Lok Sabha seat was represented by veteran leader and former Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang nine times between 1972 and 2004. He was re-elected from the constituency in 1977, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998 and 2004. His wife, Hema Gamang, retained the seat for Congress in 1999 elections while Gamang was the Chief Minister of the state for a brief period.

This time, Congress has repeated its incumbent MP Saptagiri Ulaka, BJP has fielded a new face Kaliram Majhi (ST Morcha national general secretary) and BJD has repeated Kausalya Hikaka, wife of former MP Jhina Hikaka, despite her defeat in 2019 by Congress.

The 2019 poll was a close contest between Saptagiri and Kausalya. In 2009, the seat went to the regional party after Jayaram Pangi defeated Gamang. The BJD retained the seat in 2014 when party candidate and Jhina Hikaka trounced Gamang by a slender margin.

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However, in 2019 the Congress recaptured the Koraput seat when its candidate Saptagiri defeated BJD’s Kausalya, spouse of Jhina Hikaka, by a close margin. Congress candidate got 3,71,129 votes while the BJD put up a tough fight, with Kaushalya Hikaka securing 3,67,516 votes.