Will Pangi sing ‘Jayaram’ for BJP in Koraput LS?

....BJD has poll arithmetic on its side, but BJP candidate Jayaram Pangi is politically taller than Kaushliya Hikaka

Bhubaneswar: How politics is unpredictable could well be ascertained from the high voltage contest now on the offing in the Koraput Lok Sabha (LS) constituency.

A contest that was on predictable lines, has been made a tough call with BJP fielding a strong tribal leader from Koraput  – Jayaram Pangi. And a bipolar contest between Congress and BJD has been made tri-polar in elections 2019.

As elections are all about appeal, and when communities play a clincher role in electoral outcomes; BJP fielding Pangi, a popular Kondh leader, from Koraput LS will have an impact on the voting pattern on April 11, when the constituency votes on that day. Demographically, Kondhs form around a whopping 47 per cent of the population. And it’s Pangi who emerged as the big slayer in 2009 post defeating senior Congress leader and former CM Giridhar Gamang, who had been Koraput MP since 1977.

Though BJD retained the LS with Jhina Hikaka in 2014, it’s the atmospherics of Hikaka’s kidnapping by Maoist earlier that had played a big role in 2014 elections. Much water has flown in the river Indravati now, anti-incumbency against Hikaka is at its peak, thanks to poor MPLAD implementation. Also, Hikaka for most of the time lived in Bhubaneswar that affected public outreach. Still, clout of Hikaka with BJD’s new power centres was so high that his wife Kaushaliya was made BJD LS candidate from Koraput in 2019.

And Congress has pitted Saptagiri Ulaka, son of veteran Congress leader Ram Chandra Ulaka, from Koraput LS in 2019. In the political-metre, Saptagiri is not simply rocking the popularity chart at present.

Significantly, factors working for the BJP at present in the LS seat is former CM and senior Congress leader Giridhar Gamang joining BJP in 2017. Belonging to Saura tribe, which is the 2nd largest demographically in Koraput, Gamang still has some sway over the community. And though all the three contestants in the LS belong to Kondh community, Pangi seems to have an advantage for being a veteran Kondh leader. So, the tribe arithmetic seems working for the BJP on the ground in the LS.

BJP in 2014 elections had a vote share of around 12 per cent; whereas Congress and BJD together cornered around 80 per cent votes. Moreover, in the 2017 rural polls, BJD had bagged a whopping 25 zilla parishads in Koraput and Congress could manage to win four. BJP had drawn a blank. The poll arithmetic did lend some advantage to BJD.

Political observers, however, are of the opinion that since chemistry of a candidate with voters play a major role in deciding the winner, calling out the election in Koraput LS is not possible.

Moreover, assembly segment-wise anti-incumbency is a nagging factor for the BJD. For which, BJD has dropped two sitting MLAs from constituencies: Pottangi and Gunpur.  Congress won three assembly seats in 2014, including Koraput Assembly seat won by Krushna Chandra Sagaria later resigned from Congress. While Congress repeated candidates in two seats – Laxmipur and Jeypore, brought in a new face in Koraput (SC) Assembly constituency. BJD changed candidates in two other assembly seats.

BJP has made the fight interesting by fielding new candidates in five assembly seats under the LS. While Sishir Gamang has been fielded from Gunpur, Siba Ulaka will contest from Bissam Cuttack. As BSP has a sizeable presence, Bissam Cuttack will witness a multi-cornered contest in 2019.

BJD is apparently in an advantageous position in Pottangi. But in the other five assembly segments the fight will be close.



Jayaram Pangi: Bharatiya Janata Party

 *Age – 64 years     *Education – 10th Pass

 *Number of criminal cases – Nil.

 *Profession – politics  *Assets – Rs 27lakhs

Saptagiri Ulaka: Indian National Congress

 *Son of senior Congress leader late Ramchandra Ulaka

*Chairperson of Ramchandra Ulaka Foundation

*Other data no available on public domain.

Kaushliya Hikaka: Biju Janata Dal

 *Spouse of sitting Koraput MP Jhina Hikaka

 *Other details unavailable on public domain