Himansu Shekhar Rout

Sukinda Assembly segment, a mineral-bearing area in Jajpur, is tagged as a fort of the ruling Biju Janata Dal(BJD). Sukinda was once represented by former Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai and is now represented by his son Pritiranjan Gharai. The BJD has its hold on this seat for the last 25 years.

However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had given a tough fight to the BJD in 2019, is expected to make it tougher for the ruling party this time.  

This segment was a Congress stronghold from 1980 to 1990 when Sarat Rout was elected MLA twice. However, the Congress fort started crumbling and paved the way for Prafulla Ghadei, who was elected from this seat from 1990 to 2014 and passed on the baton to his son.

In 2019, Sarat Rout was reduced to the third position and polled only 18, 619 votes. It is said that Sarat is not interested in fighting elections this time. Congress district unit secretary Raicharan Mohanty or youth leader Surjit Rout may get a Congress ticket this time. 

In the 2019 polls, Pritiranjan Gharai polled 77,510 votes and defeated his rival BJP candidate Pradip Balsamant by 16,730 votes. Elected twice, Pritiranjan has been made minister twice. 

As the Ghadai family is said to have kept their vote bank intact, Pritiranjan may be a ticket claimant this time too, and is hoping for a third term as a legislator.

Former Minister Prafulla Ghadei asserted, “People have faith in the BJD and the party candidate will win by a huge margin in 2024.”

On the other hand, Pradip Balsamant is still hopeful of a BJP ticket in 2024 and is leaving no stone unturned to turn the table in his favour. 

Pradip Balsamant sounded confident, asserting that people in Sukinda have decided for a change and the BJP will win by a huge vote margin as there is no third party as a competitor.

On the other hand, Congress leader Sarat Rout said, "As a Congress candidate I could not perform well in the 2019 election. I am no longer keen to contest the elections.”

Congress youth leader, Surjit Rout said, “Three to four leaders are hopeful for a Congress ticket this time. If I get a ticket, I will poll more than 1 lakh votes.”

Congress leader Rai Mohanty said that the party has been trying hard to perform well this time.    

Poll issues: Unemployment, pollution, and safe drinking water

This time, issues like unemployment, pollution, and safe drinking water are going to dominate the polls in this segment where over 15 industries and 10 mines are operational. 

Despite such industrial units, locals are discontent over unemployment while it is alleged that people from other states like Bihar and West Bengal are engaged in these industries. 

Laxmidhar Biswal a local resident, rued about unemployment saying, “We have 16 industrial units and 17 mines in the area, but our children are migrating outside for jobs in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.” 

Manoranjan Mohanty pointed out pollution and drinking water as major issues in the area. “The water has high iron content and is unfit for drinking. Consumption of such water has caused kidney diseases in the area. There is a need for safe drinking water,” he added.

  • Reported by:
  • JANMEJAY DASH
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