From ‘Red’ land, Aska now adorns ‘Green’ attire!

... Battle in Aska Lok Sabha seat will not be a keenly fought one as BJD so far has a dominating presence in 3 assembly segments of Hinjli, Aska and Kabisurjyanagar with a vote share of 50- 70 per cent

Bhubaneswar: Aska, the sugar town of Odisha and the second largest city in Ganjam district, had been once a bastion of communists. For which the ‘sweet’ hub has earned the epithet of ‘Red land’ in Ganjam district.

Since the formation of the Lok Sabha constituency in 1971,  though communists had won the seat once, the sway of communists in the assembly segments of Aska, Kabisurjyanagar and sub-segment Belguntha were quite high. And the erstwhile Janata Dal led by Biju Patnaik had an alliance with the communists post emergency era to jointly take on the Congress. Biju Patnaik had won the LS seat in 1996.

However, destiny took a new turn in 1997 and the ‘red land’ donned the ‘green hues’ since then. In 1997, after the demise of Biju Patnaik, Naveen made a debut in politics by contesting the Aska LS by-poll.

The BJD has never looked back since then. The party has dominated the LS seat thereafter singlehandedly. For which, Aska is now considered a BJD fort now. The hold of BJD was so impressive that even many top communist party leaders like late Nityananda Pradhan had donned the ‘green’ robes and went on to become Aska MP in 2009. BJD made his daughter Latika Pradhan a candidate from Kabisurjyanagar Assembly constituency in 2019 elections.

The battle in Aska LS seat is not going to be keenly fought. The reason is BJD has a dominating presence in three assembly segments of Hinjli, Aska and Kabisurjyanagar with a vote share of a whopping over 50- 70 per cent. Even, BJD seems to have an upper hand in Sanakhemundi and Polasara.  However, the party has a contest at hand in only two assembly seats of Sorada and Khallikote (SC).

The BJD candidate Pramila Bisoi, who has been CM Naveen Patnaik’s women empowerment mascot, seems sitting pretty in the LS seat in 2019 elections. The BJD has cornered a whopping 60 per cent votes in 2014 elections and the vote share of party posted a swift rise over the years. The talk doing rounds is Naveen has nominated Pramila Bisoi knowing well that Aska has turned a BJD castle.

However, the biggest revelation from ground seems to suggest a big change this time. The BJP in all probability will emerge as the nearest rival of BJD in 2019 elections in Aska LS seat. BJP has fielded former BJD strongman and veteran leader Ramkrushna Patnaik’s daughter Anita Subhadarshini as party’s LS face in the constituency. Ramakrushna Patnaik is known as ‘tiger’ of Ganjam. Though voters on ground have a resonance with PM Modi, still it will be an uphill battle for the BJP in the Aska LS seat.

It needs reminding that since 1997, Congress was the runner up in the Aska LS seat. The weakening of Congress in the seat is evident from the fact of the party leaving the LS seat in 2019 elections for its ally CPI. CPI national council member Rama Krushna Panda has been the joint candidate of CPI – Congress. The CPI had won the Aska LS seat in 1971. The constituency will go to polls in the second phase on April 18.