Will BJP see its ‘Aparajita’ moments in Bhubaneswar LS in 2019 Polls?

Bhubaneswar: In the political chessboard, BJP drew its first blood when post the announcement of the name of Aparajita Sarangi from Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha (LS) seat, the ruling BJD has replaced its six-time MP from the LS seat, Prasanna Patsani, with former IPS and Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik.

The former BMC Commissioner Aparajita Sarangi is well known in Odisha power corridors as an upright IAS officer. She had earned the bouquets from city planners and aam admi alike, when she introduced the award winning ‘vending zone’ concept in the city to clear the cluttered city roads in a transparent and graft free way.

While the ruling BJD has carried out this replacement therapy to make it a fight between two babus (bureaucrats),the flipside is while BJP’s Aparajita is a well known public figure in the Capital city; Arup Patnaik’s name hardly reverberates in public mind space as he was a Maharashtra cadre IPS officer. In elections, chemistry scores high as it has the potential to rock the poll arithmetic. And BJP seems to have scored an advantage in this vital barometer.

The results are discernible on the ground. Ground reports suggest riding on Modi wave coupled with Aparajita’s personal appeal, BJP has taken a good lead over BJD in the assembly segments of Bhubaneswar Central and Ekmara-Bhubaneswar under the Bhubaneswar LS.

Weaker Congress and wrong candidate chosen by BJD in Jayadev Assembly Constituency (AC), have given BJP an edge over its opponents in the assembly segment. It needs reminding here that BJD had replaced Arabinda Dhali from Jayadev Assembly constituency with Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera in 2014 on the charges of high anti-incumbency against Dhali. BJP had shown a stellar show in Balianta Zilla Parishad(ZP) 2017 polls, which comes under Jayadev AC.

BJP has also pitted yesteryears’ popular actress Aparajita Mohanty from Bhubaneswar Uttar (North) Assembly Constituency. The political game plan of BJP was to bridge the around 15- 20,000 vote gap between BJD and BJP on her popular image.

Also, the saffron party seems to be in a formidable position in Begunia post a big win the Begunia ZPs in the 2017 rural polls. The party has also got a known face of Rishav Nanda, son of popular film actor Prashanta Nanda, to take BJP’s fight in Begunia.

In Khurda assembly segment also, BJP seems to have taken a lead over BJD. BJP had won big in Tangi ZP polls in 2017. The bloody fallout last week where a BJP leader was shot dead in Khurda, reflected the intense political dogfight on in Khurda. The incident had even found a mention in PM Modi’s speech in Bhubaneswar election rally last week.

Even, in 2014 the vote gap between BJD and BJP was a mere around 6,000. It’s this fear that made BJD to re-induct BJP leader Jitu Mitra in BJD ahead of 2019 big elections. Jitu Mitra was Khurda MLA in the year 2000; he had joined BJP in 2014.

Though Congress is still a force to reckon with in Jatani and as Janardan Pati from CPI-M being the Congress supported candidate for the LS seat, a keen contest is on the cards between BJD and BJP here.