In Odisha’s Sambalpur, BJP’s Dharmendra Pradhan, BJD Strongman Pranab Das Fight High-Risk Battle

Bhubaneswar: Sambalpur parliamentary constituency in Odisha, among all the 21 major Lok Sabha constituencies in the state, has suddenly gained new political prominence after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) landed Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan as its candidate. It’s largely because the state’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has fielded party’s organizational secretary Pranab Prakash Das against Pradhan.

The Union Minister who kept himself busy in advisory electoral politics as an election observer and Rajya Sabha member, has returned to electoral exercises after a long hiatus of almost one-and-half decades.

After the BJP on March 25 named Pradhan as its candidate for Sambalpur, the BJD leaders went to a huddle and decided that Pranab Prakash will be the best suited person to give a check to him.

As the campaigning for the Sambalpur seat gains momentum, both Pradhan and Das along with their cadres and party workers appear to be leaving no stone unturned to connect with the voters. During his campaign trail, the Union minister is seen visiting temples and offering puja there and taking food in houses of dalits and marginalized people. He is also found to hold foot marches to get closer to the voters.

The BJD strongman, on the other hand, is seen holding bike rallies and small street meetings where he shares with the crowd the Naveen Patnaik government’s welfare measures meant for them and promises more such benefits.

A victory for the Union minister Pradhan would mean a lot for him and his career as he would emerge as giant killer as the BJD organization secretary Pranab Prakash has been able to fetch astounding victories for his party ever since he joined the party a little over a decade ago. He will also be able to send a message out to his opponents in the saffron party that he also knows how to win elections.

Similarly, a victory of Pranab Prakash would help him to increase his stake and stature in state politics. Once considered the second-man-in-command in the ruling BJD and successor of the CM Naveen Patnaik, he now finds himself his place being usurped by Tamil Nadu-born bureaucrat-turned-politician V Karthikeyan Pandian.

According to political analysts, both the candidates are now facing identical challenges to their present political positioning in their respective parties. While the electoral success of the winner promises to take him to new heights, the loser faces the risk of getting relegated to an insignificant position.

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