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Kendrapara: a win will help Panda to rewrite history

 BJP parliamentary candidate Baijayant Panda waves at party workers during an election campaign roadshow for Lok Sabha polls, in Kendrapada district, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (PTI Photo)

The most keenly watched contest in the ongoing Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Odisha is being fought in Kendrapara, the prestigious coastal Parliament constituency that will go to polls in the fourth and final phase of polling in the state on April 29.

Known as an anti-Congress bastion(the last time a Congress candidates had won the seat was way back in 1952), the constituency is witnessing a direct fight between Baijayant Panda, the two time sitting MP and known BJD rebel who is contesting the polls on a BJP ticket this time and BJD’s Anubhav Mohanty, a Rajya Sabha member and popular cine star.

There is a Congress candidate in the fray, a prominent High Court lawyer, Dharanidhar Nayak who had also contested the 2014 elections and had managed to capture the second spot. However, this time it is expected to be a BJD-BJP face off.

The interesting fight is going to be a make or break electoral battle for Panda who was not only inducted into the BJP just a few days before the election dates were announced but surprising was also made a national vice-president and national spokesman of the party.

Obviously, the move was aimed at embarrassing BJD and its president Naveen Patnaik with whom Panda had been having a running wordy duel since long after the latter’s suspension from the regional outfit for anti-party activities.

Retaining Kendrapara has also become a prestige issue for Naveen Patnaik as the constituency is regarded as his late father Biju Patnaik’s forte. No candidate opposing the Patnaik family had won the seat for almost the last fifty years.

The electorates in the prestigious coastal constituency, however, seem to be divided over the poll outcome. “The late Biju Patnaik is still very popular among the people in entire Kendrapara district. Therefore it will be a tough job for Panda to beat a party that had been formed in the late chief minister’s name and being led by his son”, said Aparti Sahu, a resident of Kendrapara town.

However, there are others who feel that time has changed and Panda may emerge a winner for his developmental activities in the constituency. The BJD rebel would certainly rewrite the history of Kendrapara politics if he manages to win the polls.

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