Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Lack of industry, migration of skilled workforce main issues in Odisha's Kendrapara seat

Kendrapara parliamentary constituency has sent a galaxy of political heavyweights including late Biju Patnaik and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray to the Lok Sabha in the past.
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 07:15 IST
Last Updated : 15 May 2024, 07:15 IST

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Kendrapara, Odisha: Lack of industries, unemployment and migration of skilled workforce are the main issues in Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency in coastal Odisha from where BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda is contesting against BJD's Anshuman Mohanty.

Kendrapara parliamentary constituency has sent a galaxy of political heavyweights including late Biju Patnaik and former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray to the Lok Sabha in the past.

This time, the fight is mainly between Panda and Mohanty with Sidharth Swarup Das of Congress also in the fray. Elections to the Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency will be held on June 1.

This coastal region is primarily an agrarian belt with people largely dependent on farming for sustenance.

The district, despite sending several political heavyweights to Lok Sabha and state Assembly, still does not figure in the industrial map though the Naveen Patnaik government in December last year had approved ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel's proposal to set up a Rs 1,02,275 crore worth mega steel project at Mahakalpara block of Kendrapara district.

Migration of skilled workforce is a common factor here as employment opportunities here are few and far. The skilled plumbers from this region have made their presence felt across the globe. The plumbers are much sought-after for their workmanship and dexterity.

Exodus of plumbers to overseas is a recurring phenomenon. Just like nurses from Kerala, Kendrapara plumbers are much in demand in Gulf countries for their professional approach to work.

The region, home to Bhitarkanika National Park and Olive Ridley turtle habitat of Gahirmatha marine sanctuary, virgin beaches, is yet to be utilized for ecotourism-related economy.

"I know for sure; there will be no visible change whoever wins. Kendrapara will remain the same as it was... Though there has been improvement in infrastructure in the form of road infrastructure, river bridges and rail lines, employment opportunities elude the youths here," rued an elderly voter from Kendrapara town, Subhash Chandra Mohanty.

Panda, an industrialist was elected to Lok Sabha twice from the Kendrapara seat in 2009 and 2014 on BJD ticket. He was also a two-time BJD Rajya Sabha MP from 2000 to 2009. Panda was suspended from the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on charges of anti-party activities and later he resigned from the party as well from Lok Sabha.

Panda lost to BJD's Anubhav Mohanty by a margin of 1,81,483 votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Mohanty, a Congress deserter and former MLA had joined the BJD days before the polls.

The Congress candidate Das is a political greenhorn with zero experience in Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha election.

The poll fight, according to observers, will be principally between BJP's Panda and BJD's Mohanty, son of veteran politician late Nalinikanta Mohanty who was expelled from BJD in 2000 by CM Naveen Patnaik.

The Aul, Mahakalpada, Rajnagar, Kendrapara, Patkura, Kisannagar and Mahanga Assembly segments constitute the Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency spread across Kendrapara district with parts in Cuttack district. Significantly, all the Assembly seats coming under the 5parliamentary constituency were bagged by the BJD.

The parliamentary constituency is home to 17,91,112 voters including 42,181 first-time voters. It has 9,26,275 male voters and 8,64,837 female.

Biju Patnaik had won the seat thrice successively in 1977, 1980 and 1984.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray had won consecutive elections from Kendrapara in 1989 and 1991.

Published 15 May 2024, 07:15 IST

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