Pradeep Pattanayak

The nomination of Yasir Nawaz by Congress as Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha candidate and the expulsion of senior Congress leader and Jatani MLA Suresh Routray may turn the BJD’s apple cart in the constituency. 

In the 2019 elections, the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat witnessed a two-way fight as the Congress didn’t field any candidate for the said seat. This reportedly benefitted the BJD most with Congress votes going in its favour. 

BJD's candidate for the Jatani Assembly Constituency, which falls under the Bhubaneswar LS segment, polled 61,319 votes in 2019 while its Bhubaneswar MP candidate secured 72,848 votes. 

As per the discussions in the political corridors, with an aim to pocket sitting Jatani MLA Suresh Routray’s vote bank, the BJD fielded his son Manmath Routray. The expulsion of senior Routray from Congress is said to have put paid to the conch party’s strategy. 

This apart, the party is most likely to lose the minority votes as Congress’ candidate Yasir Nawaz has the support of the community in Jatani. If the numbers of Muslim voters of Jatani and Jayadeb constituencies are put together, it would be something around 30,000, which is enough to tip the balance. 

“Last time, there was no Congress candidate in the fray. This time, the party has fielded a candidate after taking people’s demands into consideration. As people have turned their faces away from the BJD due to corruption, they will go for Congress,” said Nawaz. 
On the other hand, Manmath said, “The Congress’ strategy can hardly do any harm to us. There has been a wave in favour of Naveen Patnaik as he has done a lot of things.”

Exuding confidence, BJP’s Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha candidate, Aparajita Sarangi said, “I am not fighting the election. The people are fighting for me. The enthusiasm in them will make me a winner.”

Similarly, former CM Janaki Ballabh Patnaik’s son Prithvi Patnaik's entry into the Jatani Assembly constituency may also change the Begunia vote equation. This is believed so because Congress’ last election candidate Pradeep Sahu has crossed over to the BJD. It is believed that the grand old party is still having a sizeable number of votes in Jatani. 

At the same time, the BJD is still struggling to manage resentment in the Ekamra and Bhubaneswar Central Assembly constituencies. The Amaresh Jena and Biranchi Mahasupakar factions are still causing headaches for the party. 

“It is obvious that the entry of Congress would turn the equations topsy-turvy. It is certain that Jatani Congress vote will be divided. This time, the ruling BJD may not get the Congress votes that it received in the last election,” said political analyst, Prasanna Mohanty.

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