Odisha polls: Naveen Patnaik files nomination papers from Hinjli for 6th consecutive term

Odisha CM to also contest assembly polls from Kantabanji

Naveen Patnaik nomination Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik files his nomination to contest assembly polls from Hinjli | X

Biju Janta Dal President and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik filed nomination papers from his traditional Hinjli assembly constituency for the sixth consecutive time on Tuesday. The CM filed his papers at the sub-collector office in Chhatrapur.

Patnaik has won from this constituency as BJD's nominee since 2000. Though he was a union cabinet minister then in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, Patnaik contested the 2000 Odisha assembly election and became chief minister of the BJD-BJP coalition government in the state. He has contested and won from Hinjli in each election since then. 

In 2019 though, Patnaik also fought and won from Bijepur assembly segment in Bargarh district of western Odisha. Post polls, he retained Hinjli and left Bijepur. This time too, BJD declared that the chief minister will contest from a second seat, from the Kantabanji assembly seat in Bolangir district of western Odisha. Patnaik will file his nomination from Kantabanji on May 2.

Before filing his nomination on Tuesday, CM offered prayers at Taratarini temple near Purushottampur, presiding deity of Ganjam district. The temple is part of his temple development programme under which important religious places in the state like Sri Jagannath temple at Puri, Sri Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar and Samaleswari temple in Sambalpur have been developed. 

BJD’s top leader Pranab Prakas Das alias Bobby Das also filed nomination for the Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency on Tuesday. BJD has fielded him against BJP heavyweight Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Education Minister from Sambalpur. Pradhan, a member of the Rajya Sabha, is contesting the Lok Sabha election from the state as Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly wants BJP leaders in Rajya Sabha to come to parliament via Lok Sabha.

Though Pranab Prakas Das is an MLA from Jajpur in coastal Odisha, BJD perhaps fielded him at Sambalpur to give a message that it wants to give a tough challenge to the BJP’s top leader. Pradhan is considered as the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in the state. Though BJD was supportive of the Modi regime, and though there were talks of alliance between the two parties, it did not materialise. The Congress and its top leader Rahul Gandhi during his recent Odisha campaign alleged that BJD and BJP are together. Also, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and its National President J.P. Nadda during their recent Odisha visits have criticized the BJD government in the state and hoped for a change of government. 

Prime Minister Modi during his last two visits to the state shared dais with the CM and there was marked bonhomie between the two. Modi did not criticise BJD then, though his partymen hoped so. But, recently in a television interview, Modi said that Odisha’s pride and the Odia language are in danger and hoped that Odisha’s people will not tolerate it for a long time. He also said in such a situation, the BJP should get a chance to serve Odisha and if chance is given, “we will take Odisha to the peak of development”.

Prime Minister Modi may change his tone during his election campaign in the state in the coming days. Both the BJP and Congress have been attacking V.K. Pandian, the Tamil Nadu-born IAS officer of Odisha cadre who has left his job and joined BJD, and he is now campaigning for BJD in different districts. Besides these developments, Pranab Prakas Das's candidature against Dharmendra Pradhan gives a message that BJD and BJP may be more than formal opponents in the current simultaneous elections to assembly and Lok Sabha in the state. 

The CM's message to Das gives credence to that changed perception. Sitting in his car, Patnaik sent a video message to Das wishing him luck. Patnaik said, “All the best Bobby. I am sure you will win.” On the other hand, Das expressed his gratitude to the chief minister for switching over to ‘X’. He said he was excited after receiving his party president and chief minister’s good wishes. “Your blessings and love for the people of Sambalpur have strengthened (his) determination for building a developed Sambalpur,” Mr Das said. He filed his nomination in the office of sub-collector, Sambalpur after reaching there in a big procession. Local MLA candidates of BJD, along with party leaders were present. Dharmendra Pradhan will file his nomination there on May 2.

Pradhan too doesn’t belong to the district. He is from the nearby Angul district. Anyway, Sambalpur is going to witness high voltage campaign and fight this election. By fielding its top leader Das, the organisation secretary of BJD and considered the second most important leader after Patnaik's close aide Pandian, the party wants to give a message to western Odisha, traditionally a stronghold of the BJP. CM's candidature from Bolangir in western Odisha and Mr Das’s candidature from Sambalpur could be considered as twin messages of BJD to western Odisha. Congress’s state President Sarat Patnaik, ex-MP belongs to Bolangir and he is contesting the assembly polls from another western Odisha district Nawapara. Earlier, western districts were known as Congress bastion.

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