Vikash Sharma

The steel city of Rourkela is all set to witness a big fight between two heavyweight leaders- BJP's Dilip Ray and BJD's Sarada Nayak in the upcoming Odisha Elections 2024. Both Ray and Nayak are seeking a fourth term as MLAs from Rourkela.

Already the campaigning has heated the political atmosphere in the city as the leaders are not leaving any stone unturned to woo the voters ahead of the crucial polls. In 2014, both leaders had come face-to-face and it was Ray who emerged victorious. However, it won't be a cakewalk for both Ray and Nayak owing to several factors in 2024.

Ray, a three-time MLA, and two-time Rajya Sabha member, was recently named candidate by the BJP for the Rourkela Assembly seat. He is trying his best to utilise the time to reach out to the voters.

"I am witnessing a Modi Lehar (Wave) in Rourkela and the people want a change everywhere. In the last elections, there were some grievances and this time there are no such issues," said Ray.

BJD's Sarada Nayak is also not far behind. He has already started to hold crucial deliberations with party workers.

"I am a soldier of CM Naveen Patnaik and I don't give importance to who is my opponent. My sole aim is to ensure the all-round development of Rourkela," said Nayak. 

The Congress, on the other hand, has fielded Birendra Nath Patnaik and he too has started holding meetings with his party workers and supporters.

"People had elected both the leaders thrice from Rourkela and they are not much happy over their performance and they want new this time," said Patnaik.

According to political experts, winning the Rourkela battle will not be easy for any leader. The reason, the people are reportedly not happy with the development works, lack of facilities, and other issues.

"The dream of extension of Rourkela has not been possible so far," said Akshay Samal, a local resident.

Political expert Arabinda Das said, "The Rourkela Assembly seat has drawn attention as a big fight is on cards between the two leaders. It remains to be seen how far they can sway the tide in their favour in the next 20 to 25 days as both have some advantages and disadvantages."