The Kalahandi Parliamentary constituency will see a triangular contest among Congress, BJD and BJP.
While Congress has declared sitting MP Bhakta Charan Das as its candidate, BJD’s candidate is Arka Kesari Deo and Pradipta Kumar Naik will fight it out for the BJP. The Aam Aadmi Party has selected Satya Mahar as its candidate.
Bhakta Das, initiated into politics in 1985, was elected to Assembly from Bhawanipatna constituency as Janata Party candidate after he defeated the then Congress leader Dayanidhi Naik.
In 1989, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kalahandi Parliament constituency on Janata Dal ticket and made the Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs in the VP Singh Ministry for five months and again in the Chandrasekhar Ministry when he was made the State Minister of Railways. In 1991, he faced defeat at the hands of Congress candidate Subas Nayak and withdrew from the elections till 1996 when he made a come back on Samata Party ticket.
Bhakta joined Congress later on, but had to face defeat thrice in 1998, 1999 and 2004 from BJP candidate Bikram Keshari Deo. But, he was elected to the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009 riding on anti-Vedanta campaign by defeating BJD rival Subas Chandra Nayak. During this tenure, he was instrumental in completion of the Lanjigarh Road-Junagarh railway line, opening of Bhawanipatna and Junagarh railway stations and introduction of an intercity train between Bhubaneswar and Raipur. Though his detractors have alleged bad performance by Bhakta in the last five years,
political observers said he is a formidable candidate having a strong network at the grassroot level. BJP candidate Naik was elected to Assembly in 1995, 2000 and 2004 from Bhawanipatna Assembly seat and served as the Labour Minister during the BJD-BJP coalition Government.
Political observers said with the ‘Modi wave’ and his social presence, Naik is also capable of turning the table in his favour.
BJD’s Deo is, on the other hand, a new face. He is the son of former Lok Sabha member of BJP late Bikram Kesari Deo.
Being a green horn in the electoral politics, he will depend on the clean image of party supremo Naveen Patnaik, his father’s reputation and family’s good will for winning the poll battle.