Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

With Bengali settlers holding the key to Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat by virtue of their numbers, candidates of all three major parties- BJD, BJP and Congress are making desperate attempts to woo them.

There are more than 15 lakh voters under the Nabarangpur Parliamentary segment which consists of seven Assembly seats. As many as two lakh among them are Bengali voters.

The Bengalis, who have migrated from Bangladesh, live mainly in Umerkote and Malkangiri after acquiring citizenship in the early Seventies. Around 85,000 and 50,000 Bengali voters live in Malkangiri and Umerkote respectively. Apart from these places, Bengali voters are also present in Nabarangpur, Chitrakonda, Jharigaon, Dabugaon and Kotpad.

Bengali voters important

As per political analysts, the support of Bengali voters is important for any candidate to win the election as they generally vote in favour of a single party unanimously based on certain issues.

As per reports, the BJD had managed to woo these voters in their favour to win earlier elections. However, the Bengali residents are reportedly not happy with the BJD this time as the ruling party has miserably failed to fulfil their past promises.

"No developmental activities are taking place in the Bengali villages. Even our village has not been given a revenue village status yet," rued Sadhana Mandal, a Bengali voter from Malkangiri.

"Bengalis are grappling with several problems. We are even finding it hard to get proper education for our students sans quality educational institutions in our area. We will vote for a candidate whom we feel to undertake developmental activities in our area," said Ramakrusha Mandal, a Bengali voter in Umerkote.

Problems of Bengali residents 

The Bengali residents are facing several problems in the area. Those problems are yet to be solved despite repeated assurances by the BJD. Hence, the Opposition parties have targeted the ruling party over its failures during their poll campaigns.

During BJP's poll campaigning in Nabarangpur on April 2, Union Minister Shantanu Thakur also slammed BJD over the alleged neglect in the area.

"No remarkable developmental activities have taken place in the area where Bengali settlers are living. If BJP is voted to power in Odisha, we will undertake many developmental activities in the field of education, health and other areas with the help of a double-engine government," said Thakur.

"I am hopeful that Bengali voters will vote in favour of Congress in large numbers and our party will emerge victorious," said Congress MLA candidate from Malkangiri Mala Madhi.

"Earlier, there was some gap. However, people have their love and blessings intact for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. We are confident that BJD will definitely win this time," said MLA candidate from Malkangiri Manas Madkami.

Polling will take place in Nabarangpur on May 3. All the major political parties are leaving no stone unturned in their electioneering. It remains to be seen which party will manage to woo Bengali voters and come out with flying colours.

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