Cong likely to opt for a mini Mahagatbandhan in Odisha

Cong likely to opt for a mini Mahagatbandhan in Odisha

Kalahandi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi being garlanded during a public meeting 'Parivartan Sanklap Samavesh' at Bhawanipatna, in Kalahandi district of Odisha, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. (PTI Photo) (PTI2_6_2019_000130B)

The Congress is planning to ink a mini “Mahagatbandhan” in Odisha by roping in CPI and CPM, the two left parties, as well as the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) to contest the coming Lok Sabha and assembly elections from one platform.

The state leaders of all the four parties have already held preliminary discussions on the issue. “The talks are progressing well”, said a senior Congress functionary.

If everything goes as per plan, the Congress is expected to vacate three out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state for its possible alliance partners. While the prestigious Bhubaneswar seat will go to CPM, the CPI will be given the Aska Lok Sabha constituency.

Like Bhubaneswar, Aska, which is located in southern Odisha, is also considered a prestigious seat because it was once represented in the lower house by Naveen Patnaik, the current chief minister. Patnaik who is also the founder president of the ruling BJD is the sitting MLA from Hinjli, an assembly segment under Aska Lok Sabha seat.

 Both Bhubaneswar and Aska Lok Sabha constituencies were once considered Congress strongholds. But they have turned BJD forte now. In fact, during the 2014 elections, the Congress had encountered difficulties in finding suitable candidates for both the important seats.

 If Congress managed to cement the new “Gatbandhan”, the JMM then may be offered the Mayurbhnaj Lok Sabha seat in north Odisha. The tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj is one of the two districts in Odisha where the JMM is having a sizeable support base.

Mayurbhanj too was once known as a Congress dominated Lok Sabha seat. But political scenario now has changed dramatically in the tribal constituency. In a four-corner contest during the 2014 polls, the Congress had been reduced to the fourth position behind BJD, BJP and JMM.

 In the event of an alliance, the Congress is also expected to vacate a few assembly seats for its three poll partners.