Going gets tough for Mohapatra

 In his heydays, Sidhant Mohapatra, the actor-turned politician and sitting ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP from Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency in south Odisha had a habit of churning out repeated hits on celluloid.

On the election battle field, however, the 47-year-old silver screen hero is having a tough time translating his “repeat” performance.

Mohapatra, a prominent figure in Ollywood (as the Odia film industry is popularly known) is involved in a four-cornered contest with Congress’ Chandrasekhar Sahu, BJP’s Ramachandra Panda and Ali Kishore Patnaik of the CPM. In the 2009 polls, he had defeated Sahu by a comfortable margin of more than 57,000 votes.

The common perception in the entire constituency is that the actor-turned-politician rarely visited his constituency during his five-year term. Mohapatra stays in Bhubaneswar whereas his two rivals, Sahu and Panda, reside in Berhampur, south Odisha’s biggest business hub and an important Assembly segment under Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency.

“His performance as an MP has not been up to the mark. During the last five years, his visits to the constituency were rare. He shows up his face only when Naveen Patnaik tours his home district. Even during Phailin, his trips were not as frequent as it should have been. If he wins the polls this time, it will not be because of his performance as an MP but only for Naveen Patnaik,” said Udit Panigrahi, a tea vendor.

Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency is part of Ganjam, Patnaik’s home district which was devastated by the cyclone Phailin last year.

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