Home Daily News Naveen Patnaik Announces Candidacy from Kantabanji

Naveen Patnaik Announces Candidacy from Kantabanji

by Nita Mishra

CM and Biju Janata Dal leader Naveen Patnaik declared on Wednesday that he will contest for a second seat in the upcoming elections, this time in the town of Kantabanji in western Odisha. This move mirrors his strategy from the 2019 assembly elections when he contested from both Kantabanji and his stronghold of Hinjili. Analysts suggest that this decision aims to strengthen his party’s position in the region for both the state assembly and Lok Sabha elections happening simultaneously.

Patnaik revealed the list of BJD candidates for the 147-member state assembly, confirming his own candidature from Kantabanji, which falls under the Bolangir Parliamentary constituency. These elections are scheduled for May 20, coinciding with Patnaik’s contest in Hinjili, a seat he has held since 2000. The assembly elections in Odisha will occur in four phases, aligning with the corresponding Parliamentary Constituencies, totaling 21.

The five-time chief minister also announced eight other candidates, including six women, bringing the total number of BJD candidates to 126. Notably, 28 women have received tickets from the party, marking the highest representation among all parties. Many of these women are relatives of current or former BJD MLAs or MPs.

Patnaik’s decision to contest from two seats in 2019, including Bijepur in western Odisha, proved beneficial for the BJD, countering the growing influence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the region, particularly after their success in the 2017 panchayat polls. Despite initial skepticism, Patnaik vacated the additional seat after two months and retained Hinjili.

With five Lok Sabha seats and 33 assembly constituencies, western Odisha holds significant political sway. BJD strategists anticipate that Patnaik’s candidacy from the region will shape the political landscape and curb the BJP’s advancement. This comes at a crucial time when opinion polls indicate the BJP’s potential to secure more Lok Sabha seats in Odisha than the BJD, a historical first. In the 2019 elections, the BJP secured eight Lok Sabha and 23 assembly seats, while the BJD claimed 12 Lok Sabha and 112 assembly seats.

Kantabanji is renowned as the migration hub of Odisha, witnessing an annual exodus of laborers who seek work in neighboring states like Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, primarily in brick kilns and construction projects. Many laborers fall victim to exploitation by local contractors, who lure them into labor contracts to repay loans or debts, leading to months of arduous work.

Party leaders believe that Patnaik’s contest from Bolangir will not only influence the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat but also impact the neighboring Kalahandi and Sambalpur Lok Sabha seats, where the BJP is actively campaigning.

Political analyst Rabi Das commended Patnaik’s bold move, emphasizing its potential impact on surrounding assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies. “Patnaik’s decision to contest from Kantabanji reflects his determination to resist political challenges despite his advancing age,” Das remarked.

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