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Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Fight of heavyweights in Sambalpur where farmers, weavers hold the key

Unemployment and distress sale of paddy are the pressing issues in Odisha's Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency, where Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan of the BJP and influential BJD general secretary (organisation) Pranab Prakash Das are poised for a showdown
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 04:49 IST
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 04:49 IST

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Sambalpur: Unemployment and distress sale of paddy are the pressing issues in Odisha's Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency, where Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan of the BJP and influential BJD general secretary (organisation) Pranab Prakash Das are poised for a showdown.

The candidates' attention is squarely on farmers and weavers, who are crucial in a region that encompasses the catchment area of the Hirakud reservoir and has a thriving handloom industry.

The majority of Sambalpur's population, concentrated in five of its seven assembly constituencies, relies either on agriculture or the harvesting of Kendu and Sal leaves for their livelihoods.

Pradhan, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Bihar, is contesting elections after a gap of 15 years. He had last unsuccessfully contested assembly elections from Parlahara assembly segment in 2009.

Das, on the other hand, is the sitting MLA of Jajpur seat in the coastal region. He is known to be an influential organiser of the party.

The prestigious Sambalpur parliamentary constituency was represented by the BJD during its alliance with BJP three times in a row in 1998, 1999 and 2004.

In 2009, 2014 and 2019, however, voters of the constituency elected Congress, BJD and BJP candidates respectively.

Pradhan, a resident of Talcher town in Angul district and son of former Union minister Debendra Pradhan, has been a central minister since 2014 and is banking on the initiatives of the Union government to register a victory.

"We are optimistic that people will vote on the lotus symbol. The BJP-led Centre has established IIM Sambalpur and people are happy with the developmental work of the Union government," he said.

Das, a three-term Jajpur MLA and son of former Janata Dal state president Ashok Dash, claimed that people love Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and have been benefited from the BJD governments' schemes for farmers, weavers, students, youths and women.

"The BJD government's Kalia scheme for farmers is very popular in this region," Das said.

Although a total of 14 candidates are in the fray, the contest is directly between Pradhan and Das.

Congress has nominated former BJD MP and ex-minister Nagendra Pradhan, who quit the ruling party in the state and joined the grand old party a few days before filing his nominations.

The Congress had first named Dulal Chandra Pradhan from the seat but later changed its candidate to Nagendra Pradhan, who had won from the constituency in 2014 on a BJD ticket, after he joined the grand old party. Aggrieved by the party's decision, Dulal Chandra Pradhan later joined the BJP.

Nagendra Pradhan was elected from the Athamalik assembly segment three times, in 1990 on a Janata Dal ticket and in 2004 and 2014 as a BJD candidate. He had also served in the Naveen Patnaik cabinet.

The Sambalpur parliamentary constituency was reorganised in a delimitation exercise ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

It comprises Sambalpur, Rairhakhol, Kuchinda and Rengali assembly constituencies in Sambalpur district, Athamallik and Chhendipada assembly segments in Angul district and Deogarh assembly constituency in Deogarh district.

BJD had won the Rairhakhol, Kuchinda, Chhendipada and Athamallik assembly seats, while the BJP bagged Sambalpur, Deogarh and Rengali assembly seats in the 2019 elections.

In the 2009, 2014 and 2019 elections, Sambalpur sent three different party candidates to the Lok Sabha.

In 2009, the Congress won by a margin of 14,874 votes, while the BJD secured the seat in 2014, winning by 30,574 votes. The BJP bagged the seat in 2019 by a margin of only 9,162 votes.

The candidates of the three major parties were seen campaigning in the scorching heat, reaching out to representatives of various communities, entrepreneurs, artistes and sportspersons.

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Published 17 May 2024, 04:49 IST

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