2019: Changing Political Narratives in Nayagarh

Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh and Arun Kumar Sahoo

By Subhransu Panda, Bhubaneswar:

On one hand, the 3 time BJD MLA from Nayagarh Arun Kumar Sahoo is trying hard to hold his fort in next election. On other hand, sitting MP from Kandhamal, queen Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh, the successor of erstwhile rulers of Nayagarh is also putting all efforts to make a comeback to her husband’s home turf.

Both Arun Kumar Sahoo and Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh belong to same political party – Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

In 2009 being an independent candidate late Hemendra Chandra Singh, husband of Pratyusha, lost to BJD candidate Arun with a margin of 17341 votes. While Arun got 67100 votes, Hemendra got 39759 votes. And the BJP candidate got only 4878 votes while Congress got 3967 votes.

It’s believed that, had Hemendra got a congress ticket, he would have won the election in 2009. Soon after he joined Congress and became the party president of the district committee.

Fearing Hemendra’s winability in 2014 election, BJD played a trick. As the Congress was decaying and landed in multiple controversies within the party, BJD made a bargain with Hemendra. Just few months before the 2014 general elections, Hemendra quit Congress to join the ruling party. Soon after he became the face of Loksabha from Kandhamal, with a BJD ticket.

Hemendra Singh joined BJD in February 2014,few months before the General Elections in presence of his contender Arun Kumar Sahoo and party supremo Naveen Patnaik

Unfortunately, the kingdom-less king of Nayagarh who enjoyed the crown being a first time Member of Parliament, died of sepsis and multiple organ failure few months after the election. His wife Pratyusha was elected as a Member of Parliament from the same seat later.

Nayagarh Assembly constituency is no way connected with Kandhamal Parliamentary constituency except sharing neighborhood.

According to an assumption, Pratyusha or her family (hairs of the princely state) still have a god number of voters’ support in Nayagarh. Most of them are hardcore congress sympathisers. Even a section of BJD, revolting against sitting MLA Arun Kumar Sahoo,are now joining hands with Pratyusha.

Now a days, Pratyusha is spending more times building her public relations in Nayagarh, not in Kandhmal.

Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh with two of Arun Kumar Sahoo’s adversaries Nasir Ahmed (extreme left) and Daspalla MLA Purna Chandra Nayak (third from right). The Odia-illiterate politician has a good public relation with kids and women.

Though the Arun sympathisers and his influence peddler within the party are canvassing hard to put out the Pratyusha from the Nayagarh horizon, it seems to be impossible now. Following his departed husband she may contest independently or join BJP, if not entertained by BJD.

There were three options for Pratyusha- continuing as MP from Kandhmal, contesting from Puri parliamentary constituency and contesting from Ranpur assembly constituency. The is a big NO for Kandhmal, as she wants to comeback Nayagarh and to fulfill her husband’s never-fruitful dream. There are many more aspirants from Puri including the sitting MP Pinaki Mishra. Ranpur is a suitable seat for Pratyusha. However according to sources, she wants to gain support from her family’s old supporters in Nayagarh. The party left almost with no-way-out option in Nayagrh.

According to a private but trustworthy calculation, if Pratyusha is the BJD candidate from Nayagarh, she will get the full support from the party voters. Also she will be succeeded in pocketing Congress votes too, as the Congress district committee is almost in coma situation.

Arun Kumar Sahoo in his constituency taking morning class for young members of his party. Sahoo shows interest in sports and philosophy.

In the case of Arun- he has a good number of traditional votes in Odagaon block of Nayagarh constituency. However in Nayagarh civic body and Nayagarh block he lacks support.

If Pratyusha gets the ticket in Nayagrh assembly seat, Arun has three options in hand- Khandapada assembly constituency, Ranpur assembly constituency and Kandhmal parliamentary constituency.

There was a hope for Arun in Khandapada. However, now it’s gone into the wind. The sitting MLA of Khandapada Anubhav Pattnaik has a good report card in his hand. On the other hand, Anubhav’s rival Soumya Ranjan Patnaik has joined BJD and became a MP. Either Anubhav or a choice by Soumya Ranjan may get the Khandapada ticket. As far as Ranpur is concerned, the sitting MLA and BJD’s district president Rabi narayan Mohapatra revolted openly against Arun Kumar Sahoo and joined hands with Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh. Ranpur voters also have a strong dislike for Arun. Ranpur is also gearing up for a BJP revival too. So it won’t be a smooth road for Arun to head towards Rajpur.

Though Kandhmal is a tough choice for Arun there are no other choices left for him. Puri Parliamentary constituency is a distance dream for hi, though he eyes for it. Communally diluted Kandhmal is also a BJP baton for political trumpet. But the only hope is, Arun’s homeland Daspalla assembly constituency is falling within Kandhmal.

According to a strong source, recently Bhubaneswar or the third floor, whatever may be the power corridor known as, gave a strong message to Arun to focus on Kandhmal. Advisor to BJD chief spoke to Arun regarding this in a close-door meeting.

Arun Kumar Sahoo is waiting for the civic polls in Odisha later this year. The post-poll situation in Nayagarh will be a deciding factor for both Mr Sahoo and Mrs Singh.

Subhransu Panda is an author and journalist. He can be reached at editor@odishastory.com and 9338655845.


About the Author

Subhransu Panda
Subhransu Panda, founder and editor of www.odishastory.com, is an author and journalist. After working 10 years as a journalist in Odisha's leading media houses, both print and electronics, he started Odisha Story in 2016. He has 6 Odia books to his credit including 2 novels. He is also heading Odisha's leading publishing house PEN IN Books.