Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Legacy matters in politics. In the 2019 battle of Patkura, the Biju legacy romps home again. Though Savitri Agarwalla has been the BJD nominee, the daggers were drawn between CM Naveen Patnaik and his bête noire veteran BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra.

The legacy of legendary Biju Patnaik counts high in Patkura Assembly Constituency. Because, Patkura was the battleground of the charismatic leader in 1980 Assembly elections. And Bijoy made debut from Patkura in a by-election in 1980, post relinquishing of the seat by Biju Patnaik.

In the polls thereafter,  Bijoy reaped the harvest of Biju legacy and won the seat consecutively for four terms. With the last-minute intrigue act played in 2000,  Bijoy had to sit out of the poll ring. But the Biju legacy was with the veteran, as his supported candidate Trilochan Behera of All India Trinamool Congress dusted BJD official nominee and newcomer Atanu Nayak.

However, Bijoy later conceived his own political outfit called Odisha Gana Parishad and fought the 2004 Patkura Assembly elections in alliance with Indian National Congress. BJD-BJP were then in alliance, and BJD's Atanu Nayak emerged the victor. Political observers attributed the defeat of Bijoy to abdicating of the Biju legacy by the stalwart, post his alliance with INC.

Later, in 2009, when BJD - BJP had an acrimonious split, Bijoy joined BJP and entered the Patkura poll fray. But electoral luck failed to smile on Bijoy as he lost to veteran BJD leader Bed Prakash Agarwalla, who was also a one time confidante of Biju Patnaik. The 2009 defeat of Bijoy was attributed to his last minute entry into BJP and erosion of Biju legacy.

Instead of staying on course, In 2014, Bijoy changed his constituency to Mahakalpada and locked horns with BJD's Atanu Nayak. Interestingly, Mahakalpada constituency came into shape in 2009. And Atanu had won the seat convincingly in 2009 assembly polls. Bijoy lost the polls. His loss was attributed to late entry into the battle field. More so, for Bijoy, by then the Biju legacy had completely eroded.

With CM Naveen himself plunging into the 2019 Patkura poll campaign, the Biju legacy crowned the BJD candidate Savitri Agarwalla the winner.

An analysis of 2019 poll arithmetic shows that BJD candidate polled 53.9 per cent of votes, whereas Bijoy polled 43.8 per cent of votes.

Cut to 2009, Bijoy had then garnered 30.81 per cent votes. The votes he polled in 2019 saw a swift spike by nearly 14 per cent. But BJD vote share has crossed 50 per cent as it increased its share by over 4 per cent vis-a-vis 2014 assembly polls.

While Bijoy sliced majority of the Congress cake, a small chunk has also been sliced by BJD.

The bottom line:  Biju legacy still rules in Patkura. However, the latest polls indicate Odisha political race course is slowly turning into a two-horse race - BJD and BJP. And marginalisation of INC continues.

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