Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With national security taking spotlight this election and when Balasore, India's Missile launchpad, is voting Monday,  the moot point is will the top biller of this election prove a projectile for the BJP's fortune in the Lok Sabha (LS) seat?

While BJP has deployed party's top gun Pratap Sarangi from the Balasore LS, BJD has repeated sitting MP Rabindra Jena and Congress has fielded OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik's son Nabajyoti Patnaik from the seat. BJD's Rabindra Jena had won the seat defeating Pratap Sarangi in 2014.

Significantly, of a total nearly 17 LS elections held since 1951, Congress had won 10 LS elections in Balasore. But the grand old party had bitten dust in 1967 (When for first time Congress lost six States nationally), 1977 (anti-emergency), 1989 (Bofors scam) and 1998 (Vajpayee wave), 1999 (Kargil War) and 2004 (BJD-BJP alliance). BJD had won the seat for first time in 2014.

Though Congress had won the LS seat in 2009, much water now has flown down the Subarnarekha and  Budhabalanga rivers. The vote share of Congress had seen a drastic decline since then. The party had finished third in 2014 elections and in 2017 rural polls could won only one Zilla Parishad (ZP). In contrast, BJP had won 13 ZPs and BJD won 31 ZPs. The poll arithmetic on ground shows Congress is on weak wicket here.

Interestingly, when BJD had dominated the rural polls only two years back, the new dynamics that took shape in Balasore recently has made the BJD edgy in the LS seat.

Among the seven assembly segments under the LS, BJP is strong in Remuna since 1998. The party has further consolidated its lead over BJD there. Prospects of BJP in the assembly segments of Nilgiri and Badasahi assembly segments, where BJP was trailing by mere 5,000 and 8,000 votes, respectively, look brighter now. But the assembly segments of Basta, Bhograi and Jaleswar were the regions of bother for BJP as the party was trailing by a whopping 50,000- 60,000 votes there.

However, by inducting Basta strongman Raghunath Mohanty, BJP played its card well to give a checkmate to BJD. However,  BJP is still trailing behind BJD in Bhograi. With senior leader Kharabela Swain back in party fold, the BJP is hoping to reclaim Jaleswar in 2019.

In this political chess board, when BJP is making its move quite cleverly to gain from Modi wave, BJD hopes to retain the seat purely on CM Naveen's charisma. The smoke of chit fund scam charges has clouded the aura of sitting MP Rabindra Jena, as Balsore has borne the brunt of ponzi scam in Odisha. The Congress party wish to sail through absolutely on brand  Nehru - Gandhi  and the much publicised NYAY scheme.

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