Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Malkangiri Assembly constituency coming under Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat is expected to see a triangular contest among the Biju Janata Dal(BJD), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress.     

The BJD has fielded Manas Madkami while the BJP has banked on a new face Narasingha Madkami. The Congress has nominated Mala Madhi, who had given a tough fight to the BJP and BJD candidates twice in the past. 

All three candidates have started their campaigning in various places. Though the seat is now represented by the BJP, the party did not fare well in panchayat elections. But the BJD was in the third position in the last assembly elections. 

Hence, the three parties are trying their level best to win the hearts of the people on some issues.

Bengali voters play a crucial role in the victory of any candidate. Over 80,000 Bengali-speaking voters are in the constituency. The three candidates are leaving no stone unturned to get the support of a maximum number of Bengali voters. 

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In 2014, BJD’s vote share was decreased by nearly seven per cent and it was eight per cent in 2019.
On the other hand, the BJP’s vote share has increased by 17 per cent.   

As per reports, a total of 1,95, 739 voters will exercise their franchise in the Makangiri Assembly seat(ST) which comprises Sadar block, Kalimela block, Padia block and seven panchayats under Korukenda block. 

A Look Back at it's Electoral History

The BJD and BJP have won the seat twice each in the past while Congress and Ganatrantra Parishad registered their electoral success thrice each. 

In the by-election to the seat in 1992, BJP leader Arabinda Dhali had won the seat and was re-elected from the seat in the 1995 and 2000 elections. However, the Congress wrested the seat in 2004 when its candidate Nimai Chandra Sarkar was elected from here. 
In 2009, the seat went to the BJD as its candidate Mukunda Sodhi was elected here. In 2014, the BJD again won the seat as its candidate Manas Madkani was elected.

After ten years, the BJP wrested the seat from the BJD in 2019 when its candidate Aditya Madhi defeated his nearest rival from Congress Mala Madhi by a margin of over 25,000 votes.

However, BJD’s Mukunda Sodhi was pushed to third position.  

This time, the BJP has not given a ticket to Adiya Madhi who won the seat after two debacles. It is said that as the BJP did not fare well in the last panchayat elections in the assembly segment, the candidate was changed.

Another reason is that Adiya would not keep well and failed to tour his constituency. BJP’s new candidate is trying to woo the Bengali voters to his side while trying to cash in on the infighting of the BJD and the alleged anti-incumbency factor. Issues of underdevelopment, road connectivity and drinking water will be major issues of the people. 

The BJD is struggling to remove its defeat gap of 25,000 votes.

Most voters say they would choose an eligible candidate who can deliver on promises and carry on development.

Senior journalist Deba Das said,” The Bengali community will play a curial role in the victory of any candidate. Over 75,000 people of the Bengali community are living here. Earlier, BJP leader Arabinda Dhali was elected from the seat thrice. He belongs to the Bengali community. He is now back to BJP and may play a crucial role here though he is contesting the poll in Jeydev constituency." 

He added that the fight will be mainly between the BJP and the BJD. The BJP may gain an edge if they make use of the development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

He pointed out that issues of rail connectivity and labour migration will be major issues.

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