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Ramakanta Biswas

Though the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha put up an impressive show in majority of the Zilla Parishad (ZP) seats in the three-tier Panchayat elections, the ruling party seems to have bitten the dust in the tribal-dominated Koraput district. 

The Conch party, which had won 22 of the total 29 ZP zones of Koraput in the last rural elections, have miserably failed to repeat the previous success if the current result trends are taken into account. The Naveen wave apparently has not worked in the southern district and the mandate seems to be in favour of the Congress party. 

The grand old party has already won five ZP zones while the party’s candidates are leading in six more seats in the early rounds of counting. The party is confident of winning at least 15 seats in the district. 

As per the result of the first day of counting, the Congress party has won Dasamantapur, Lamtaput, Laxmipur, Narayanpatna seats along with the ZP zones of Gunupur and Ramanaguda in neighbouring Rayagada district. On the second day of counting, the party is leading in more than six zones. 

In the last Panchayat elections, Congress had won four seats while BJP had tested victory in a single seat. However, the voters seem to have favoured the Congress party this year. 

Mihir Kuldip, a Congress candidate who won a ZP seat said, “People were being exploited by the BJD government. Therefore, they wanted a change and voted in my favour.”

Prior to the Panchayat elections, the BJD had managed to take many heavyweight Congress leaders in its fold. Former Congress MLAs Kailash Kulesika, Chandrasekhar Majhi and former MP Pradeep Majhi from Nabarangpur had jumped to the BJD camp. However, the turncoats have failed to impress the voters and contribute to the BJD’s victory.  

The poor show of the regional party in Koraput district despite maintaining leads in majority of the seats across the State has baffled all. 

According to sources, the smooth management of elections in the grass-root level by Saptagiri Ulaka, the lone Congress MP, and party’s Jeypore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati and selection of right candidates have paid rich dividends. Besides, voters have reportedly rejected the Congress turncoats. 

Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “We won four ZPs in the last elections, but this time we have already won 12 seats. We hope to win 15 to 16 zones.”  

Rabi Narayan Nanda, senior BJD leader said, “We might have erred in selection of candidates or any other factor which is resulting in loss of one-two seats. But I am confident that our party will win most of the ZPs in the district.” 

The impressive show of Congress is not confined to Koraput district only. The grand old party has also won Gumma and Nuagarh ZP zones in Gajapati district, Raikia and Kotgarh of Kandhamal district, Birmaharajpur of Sonepur district and Chitrakonda ZP zone of Malkangiri district as per the results announced after the first day of vote counting.

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