Despite winning 112 of 146 seats in the Assembly, the BJD is going all out to win the contest for Patkura Assembly seat, which could not vote in the Assembly elections due to the death of the party’s candidate Bed Prakash Agarwalla.
Patkura’s then incumbent MLA Agarwalla passed away days before the constituency (under the Kendrapara Lok Sabha) voted in the fourth phase of 2019 General Elections. The BJD went on to win the Lok Sabha contest and six underlying Assembly contests.
Patkura will now vote on July 20, according to a notification of the Election Commission. Polls have been deferred twice, once also on account of Cyclone Fani affecting large parts of coastal Odisha in May.
Several BJD leaders say that for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Patkura is a prestige battle. “One reason is to keep out (BJP candidate) Bijoy Mohapatra (from the Assembly). Secondly, BJD will do everything to score yet another victory in its bastion of Kendrapara,” said a BJD MP.
Bijoy Mohapatra, a powerful minister in former CM Biju Patnaik’s government and one of the founding members of the BJD in the nineties, fell out with Naveen Patnaik. He, along with influential politician Dilip Ray, subsequently joined the BJP. Mohapatra quit and then rejoined the BJD ahead of the general election and was given a ticket from Patkura.
BJD has fielded Agarwalla’s wife, Savitri Agarwalla, as its candidate and four state ministers are already campaigning for votes. CM Naveen Patnaik is expected to campaign in the last two days, said BJD sources.
Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress questioned why BJD and BJP are contesting the elections separately, while behaving like allies when there are no elections. “BJD donated a Rajya Sabha seat to BJP. They have been fooling people,” said Congress candidate for Patkura, Jayanta Mohanty.