Pradeep Pattanayak

After a gap of around two years, Dhamnagar, a much-discussed and sensitive Assembly constituency in the Bhadrak district, is once again gearing up for another poll battle. 

This constituency had been a fortress of Congress that emerged victorious for over six times. But the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) forced its entry into the Congress citadel and its candidate Rajendra Das won this seat in 2009. In 2014, Muktikant Mandal was elected from here. 
In 2019, the party repeated Das from this seat but he lost to BJP’s Bishnu Sethi.  

The seat witnessed a by-poll in 2022 following the demise of Sethi. While the BJP fielded the departed leader’s son, Suryavansi Suraj, the BJD nominated Abanti Das and the Congress’pick was Baba Harekrushna Sethi. After not getting a party ticket, Rajendra Das joined the fray as an independent candidate. It was Suraj who emerged as the winner. 

Also Read: BJD announces next list of candidates for Lok Sabha and Assembly seats

Over time, Suraj has fortified his father’s legacy. His writ runs large in the constituency. What is more, his last year’s competitor Rajendra Das is with him. 

“As the BJP, the world’s largest political party has reposed faith in me, I won’t let it down. I hope the people of Dhamnagar will shower their blessings on me, more than what they had done in the by-poll,” said Suraj.  

On the other hand, BJD has nominated Dr Sanjay Das, who has been a medical professional in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. The party had made him the district coordinator of the Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha programme. During the run-up to the by-poll, speculations about his candidature were rife.

After the party nominated him, he started his spadework. 

“There has been a celebratory mood in Dhamnagar since the announcement of my candidature. The people have already made up their mind to exercise their franchise for the BJD,” said Dr Das. 

According to political analyst Abhay Pati, “Dr Das may have earned the name as a doctor, but he is yet to connect with common people as a politician. At the same time, Suraj has surpassed his father. In the by-poll, he secured 3000 more votes than that of his father. By now, he has improved his image and converted that 3000 votes into 6000 votes ." 

However, the grand old party has fallen behind in announcing its candidate for the seat. 

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