Himansu Shekhar Rout

Paralakhemundi Assembly seat is one of the most talked constituencies in south Odisha. The contest for the seat is set for a three-pronged one.  

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has repeated its candidate K Narayan Rao who had won the seat in 2019. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has given a chance to a new face like Rupesh Panigrahi while the Congress has banked on former chief secretary and senior party leader Bijay Patnaik.   

As per reports, the BJP has reposed its faith in the leadership of its incumbent K Narayan Rao, since the Assembly segment comes under the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat where party leader Pradeep Panigrahi has been fielded as the MP candidate. Narayan Rao has also confidence in the able leadership of the former Gopalpur MLA Panigrahi.

Rao said that the public support of Panigrahi and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will come in handy for the party’s victory in the seat. He observed, ”Both the Congress and the BJD have new candidates. They have to do anything for publicity. People from all walks of life know me. People’s love and affection and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will play key to our success.” 

To counter the BJP candidate, the BJD has pitted a young Turk like Rupesh Panigrahi, son of influential businessman Tirupati Panigrahi.

Rupesh said that he has been reaching out to people by making use of his father’s identity and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s achievements. The BJD leader said, ”We have been with the people with our organization over the years. I will protect the honour of our Chief Minister and my father.”  

On the other hand, Congress heavyweight and former IAS officer Bijay Patnaik was seen repeatedly visiting Paralakhemundi and reaching out to the grassroots party workers and people.

He has asserted that the Congress is the only alternative to the BJD in Odisha.  Congress leader Bijay Patnaik said, ’Both the BJD and the BJP have two weapons to win elections. One is money and the other is government machinery. Congress’s only capital is the people’s power. The year 2024 will be the year of the Congress.”

The BJD, the BJP and the Congress have tasted their shares of electoral success between 2009 to 2019. Political observers have predicted a triangular fight in the seat where the key factors for the victory in this seat will rest on winning the confidence of the people. The electorate will this time judge the personality of the leaders over the party’s brand.  

Shankar Prasad Buxi, a resident of Paralakhemundi, said, ” We have a lot of problems in this town. I feel people will vote for the leader who will promise people to sort out the civic issues.”

Political analyst Dwijendranath Padhi said, ”Taking a look at the electoral history here, people have always preferred the personality and clean image of the leaders. Thus, there will be a tough fight among the three parties.”

(Report by Adarsh Das)