6 sitting Rajya Sabha members are in the fray in Odisha

Actor turned politico Anubhav Mohanty. (Image courtesy Twitter)

An interesting feature of the ongoing Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Odisha is the presence of as many as six sitting Rajya Sabha members in the polls. All of them belong to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

The regional outfit’s present strength in the Upper House is nine.

This is the first time in the state that so many serving Rajya Sabha members are contesting the assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Of the six contenders, three are contesting Lok Sabha seats. The rest are attempting to step into the state assembly.

Actor turned politico Anubhav Mohanty is engaged in a tough battle in coastal Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency against BJP heavyweight Baijayant Panda. Mohanty, considered by many to be the top artist in the Odia movie industry at the moment, is making his debut in the direct elections.    

The mega movie star’s Rajya Sabha colleagues, Prasana Acharya and Achyuta Samanta are in the fray from western Odisha's Bargarh and Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.

While Acharya, a BJD vice-president, is taking on Suresh Pujari, a former state unit president of the BJP, Samanta is trying his luck against Kharavela Swain, a three-time former Lok Sabha member.

The rest of the upper house members of the BJD, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Pratap Dev and tribal leader Sarojini Hembram are attempting to enter the state assembly from Kahandapara in coastal Khurda district, Aul in coastal Kendrapara district and Baripada in north Odisha Mayurbhanj district respectively.

Patnaik and Dev had contested the 2014 twin polls from their respective assembly constituencies but were defeated.

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