Odishatv Bureau

The upcoming 2024 election is expected to be a tough triangular contest among three tribal heavyweights of the BJP, the BJD and the Congress in the Nabarangpur Lok Sabha (ST) seat comprising seven Assembly seats- Umerkote, Jharigaon, Nabarangpur, Dabugan, Kotpad, Malkangiri and Chitrakonda. 

Given the electoral history, the three parties have seen a rollercoaster of success and failure in this Lok Sabha seat where tribal votes play crucial in deciding the political fortunes of the leaders. 

The seat had seen a tough contest among the three parties in the 2019 election. BJD had fielded its three-time MLA Ramesh Chandra Majhi (twice from Dabugan and once from Jharigan Assembly seat) as its MP nominee for this seat. He had polled 3,92,504 votes and  trounced his nearest rival Congress’ Pradeep Majhi by a victory margin of 41,623. Pradeep had polled over 3.5 lakh votes while the BJP candidate Balabhadra Majhi slipped to the third position with 3,42839 votes.  

However, in the 2029 election, the vote percentage of both the BJD and the Congress slipped, but the BJP’s vote share in the seat had increased by nearly 16 percent, even though Balabhadra lost the poll. 

This time, the BJD has dropped its incumbent MP Ramesh Chandra Majhi despite his previous win and fielded Pradeep Majhi in his place. Pradeep, once a prominent tribal leader of Congress in south Odisha, who was elected as MP on a Congress ticket in 2009 by beating BJD’s Domboru Majhi by polling 3,08,307 votes, crossed over to the ruling party in 2021. 

In 2014, Balabhadra Majhi, a civil engineer by profession, was the BJD nominee for this seat and defeated Congress candidate Pradeep Majhi. After Balabhadra crossed over to the BJP, the party had fielded him in this seat in 2019, but he lost the poll to the BJD. Balabhadra has been repeated by the BJP for this seat despite his 2019 defeat. 

This time, the Congress has fielded its veteran leader and two-time MLA from Dabugan, Bhujabal Majhi as its MP nominee for this seat. He was elected legislator from this seat in 2009 and 2014, though he lost the election in 2019. Interestingly, the party has given ticket to her daughter Lipika Majhi, who is a doctor by profession from Dabugan Assembly seat. 

In fact, Nabarangpur was once a traditional fort of the Congress which had kept on its winning streak in the Parliamentary seat from 1962 till 1998 before it was snatched away by the BJP. BJP’s Parshuram Majhi won the seat twice- in 1999 and 2004.