Statesman News Service
Balasore, 15 April
Balasore Lok Sabha seat is witnessing a stiff contest with the Trinamul Congress candidate Dr Kartikeswar Patra emerging as a key player who could make or mar the fortune of sitting Congress MP and union minister Srikant Jena.
Though Trinamul Congress is making its debut here, its candidate Dr Patra is a veteran. He is a former MLA and MP while his wife has also been a legislator. Dr Patra quit the Congress and joined Trinamul providing the party with its best ever electoral prospect in Odisha.
He will eat in to the votes of the Congress party and this is expected to mar the prospects of Srikant Jena.
Incidentally Srikant Jena has more enemies within the Congress than in the Opposition circles. A vast majority of the Congressmen blame Srikant Jena for the large scale exodus that has put the party on a ‘ventilator’.
Perhaps sensing his unpopularity within the Congress, Srikant Jena eyed on the Opposition ranks and managed to woo another veteran anti-Congress leader Arun Dey in to the Congress fold. Dey is contesting on a Congress ticket for the Balasore assembly seat.
While Patra and Jena are worried , the other two LS candidates are equally strong – BJD’s R K Jena and BJP’s Pratap Sarangi.
R K Jena, a Congressman , switched over to the BJD and got the party ticket while Sarangi a sitting BJP mla is fast gaining ground in the LS constituency.
The BJD candidate R K Jena is a debutant but he is banking on the Naveen wave and the support of the party legislators. Sarangi is fast gaining ground with the help of the ‘ Modi wind’. He is known for his oratory and selfless service. Several central BJP leaders including Modi are likely to address election meetings here and Sarangi’s chances will improve. The division of votes in the Congress is expected to benefit Sarangi.
Incidentally Balasore LS seat used to be a BJP stronghold when Kharavela Swain was in the party. Swain had been elected thrice before he decided to resign from the party and form his own political outfit. Sarangi is looking to capitalize on the base created by the former stalwart of the party.
It is going to be a tough fight between all four – Srikant Jena, RK Jena, Pratap Sarangi and Dr Kartikeswar Patra.
Patra could turn out to be the spoilsport for Srikant Jena. he has a base in north Balasore particularly in Bhograi, his native place.
The ‘others’ in the race also play a very important role. In 2009 elections a sizeable number of votes about 85,000 went in favour of the others in the fray.