Elections 2019: Old warhorses lock horns to capture Patkura

Kendrapara: With the filing of nominations on Monday by both Bijoy Mahapatra and Bed Prakash Agarwala, the fight in Patkura in 2019 elections will be between two old war horses.

Bijoy, who dramatically rejoined BJP after resigning in a huff last year, today filed his nominations from Patkura Assembly Constituency as a BJP candidate. The BJD, which has re-nominated Bed Prakash Agarwala again from the constituency, has also filed his nominations.  The filing of nomination by Agarwala brings the curtain down on all speculations over the BJD candidate in the seat. Congress has fielded Jayant Mohanty from the constituency.

It needs mentioning that Agarawala, who is the incumbent MLA from Patkura, has been unwell for quite some time now. This had earlier fuelled speculation of him being dropped by BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik.

Both Bijoy and Agarwala are confidantes of Biju Patnaik, though Agarwala later joined the BJP. Patkura has been Bijoy’s fiefdom as he had won four consecutive terms of 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995. In fact, Bijoy was about to file nominations from Patkura in 2000 and on way to record fifth straight win, but BJD supremo in nick of the time dropped him from Patkura and later expelled Bijoy from BJD.

BJD pitted Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak from Patkura in 2000. Atanu is not a greenhorn. He is son of Rajkishore Nayak, a two time MLA of Patkura.  However,  Bijoy’s hold on the assembly seat was to fore when his supported candidate Trilochan Behera defeated Atanu Nayak.

Bijoy later formed his own party Odisha Gana Parishad and in 2004 elections he again locked horns with Atanu Nayak. But Atanu won the battle in 2004. In 2009, Bijoy joined BJP and entered the Patkura poll fray. But BJD had fielded Bed Prakash Agarwala from Patkura. Bijoy lost to Agarwala by a margin of 26,700 votes. The vote share of Bijoy was around 31 per cent vis-a-vis a share of around 49 per cent by Agarwala.

In 2014 elections, Bijoy changed his constituency to Mahakalpada and put up a strong fight against BJD’s Atanu Nayak. Though Atanus’ vote share dropped by around 2 per cent, still he defeated Bijoy in the poll race.

Bijoy entered the poll fray from Patkura in 2019. As per Election Commission data, Agarwala’s vote share increased to 56 per cent in 2014 from 49 per cent in 2009. Observers feel lack of strong candidate against Agrawala was the prime reason for increase in BJD’s vote share.

The poll battle in Patkura will witness a keen contest in upcoming elections as BJP posted some surprise gains in 2017 rural polls. The party won around 10 Zilla Parishads, though BJD retained around 22 ZPs. With former MP Baijayant Panda now in BJP, the changed arithmetic topped up by Modi wave is likely to make the battle an uphill task for BJD.