Balangir: With Balangir going to polls on April 18, the not so hot month of March in the district gets hotter as dozens of ticket aspirants in each constituency line up at major political party hubs with expectations galore.
Though Balangir district has five assembly segments, the Balangir Sadar constituency hogs the limelight in elections 2019. The constituency owes its prominence to the fact that the winner from here goes on to hold the high offices of minister, Leader of Opposition and even Chief Minister.
In last elections, the constituency had seen a big upheaval as Congress veteran Narsingha Mishra trounced BJD bigwig A U Singdeo by a margin of over 12,000 votes, and Mishra then goes to hold the office of Leader of Opposition in the 15th Legislative Assembly. While Congress party is going to repeat Narsingha Mishra , who had earlier declared not to contest in 2019, speculation is rife that BJD may field Arkesh Narayan Singhdeo, younger son of A U Singdeo. Descendant of Balangir royal family and BJD strongman in Balangir, A U Singhdeo, took recluse from active electoral politics some time ago.
Meanwhile, Congress import Basudev Pati, who unsuccessfully contested from the constituency in 2014 as BJP candidate, hopes for re-nomination this time, though new claimants in BJP are State executive member Anant Das and senior leader Gopalji Panigrahi.
Similar is the scenario in Titlagarh. When incumbent MLA Tukuna Sahu's re-nomination from BJD is almost final, it's a hazy scene in Congress and BJP following very large claimants.
Another high-profile constituency in Balangir is Patnagarh - the citadel of BJP in the district. BJP legislative party leader K V Singhdeo, who virtually lords over the constituency for over two decades, is all set to hold the BJP fort this time. BJD' s challenge to Singdeo looks hazy as the toss is up among Saroj Meher, Amitabh Prusty and woman leader Srimoyee Mishra. Congress challenge on the seat is not finalised as party is looking at claims of 2014 candidate Kishore Paricha, Ramesh Purohit and Anil Meher.
The tug-of-war in candidate selection in constituencies like Loisingha and Kantabanji persists. When AAP leader Ajay Das seems to be a thorn in BJP's victory march in Kantabanji, ‘son-of-soil this time’ slogan rents the air in Loisingha as the constituency has a trend of outsiders contesting.