Lotus Blue For Rao

Parlakhemundi Assembly segment in Odisha’s Gajapati district has been witnessing an unique electoral battle this time as the Governing BJD headed by Naveen Patnaik fielded Kalyani Gajapti, the great granddaughter of Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati.

Kalyani Gajapati is educated and people accept her with affection. The people also throng in large number to have a glimpse of her. But, no one is sure whether the royal family member will get the desired votes as the ruling party replaced K Narayana Rao, who has last time in 2014 had polled 44.1 per cent of votes against the Congress’s winning candidate K Surya Rao with 45.1 Percent votes.

The Narayan Rao camp was devastated when their leader was denied a party ticket and Naveen forced them to accept Kalyani Gajapati. During the last five years, Narayan Rao has worked with the people and a majority of BJD workers are with him.
However, Narayan Rao has a problem. After being denied BJD nomination, he contests the election as a BJP candidate in Parlakhemundi where people hardly know about the saffron party’s lotus symbol.

Here the situation is complicated as the people know the candidate Narayan Rao, but not identified with his poll symbol of Lotus.
The BJP candidate Tripati Nayak had polled only 5.1 per cent of votes in 2014 elections while Surya Rao could manage to get 45.1 per cent votes as a BJD candidate.

The Parlakhemundi seat generally witness contest between Congress and BJD. This time round, the BJP has turned out as a major contender as Narayan Rao is the saffron candidate. But, Narayan Rao camp is not sure whether people could make go for lotus symbol for their choice.

Since they know Narayan as a BJD leader, many of them may go for conch symbol. But, Narayan is a BJP candidate.
The BJP suddenly made its presence felt in Parlakhemundi because of two factors like Narayan Rao joining the saffron party after being rejected by BJD and the Pulwama terror attack impact.

The educated and young voters, however, know BJP and its symbol. But the people living in rural areas are hardly bothered about the BJP and developments in Pakistan border.

Narayan Rao has been trying hard to popularize the Lotus symbol. He has floated lotus pamphlets in both odia and telugu to draw home the voters.

However, the last year’s cyclone Titli and subsequent flood and landslide incident has created better opportunity for the ruling BJD candidate. Though many people do not know Kalyani Gajapati, the people are familiar with Naveen’s conch symbol.

Apart from getting regular relief during the calamity, the BJD government has also provided house assistance to many people and has sanctioned pucca houses under Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana.

“Me and my wife will certainly vote for BJD as it has stood by our side during the calamity,” said T Parasuram, a cobbler. His voice is being echoed in the entire area as the calamity spared none, be him rich or poor.

The state government has spent as much as Rs 216 crore during calamity and helped the distressed people. This may play a vital role in elections.

The cheap rice scheme and popular provisions are gladly accepted by the poor people of Parlakhemundi and they may not frustrate the regional party.

Sitting MLA and Congress leader, K Surya Rao is also equally popular and seeking re-election from Parlakhemundi. Since Parlakhemundi is a traditional Congress seat, Surya Rao has an advantage. During his five-year tenure, Surya has also been able to win the confidence of the people, barrinf some controversies.

While the candidates of three major parties are Telugu speaking persons, Independent candidate Tirupati Panigrahi is making more noise. Panigrahi was interested for the Congress ticket, but filed nomination as an independent candidate as he failed to get one.
His supporters woo voters in the name of Odia and non-Odia. But, the voters hardly listen to this argument as Telugu is considered as the second language in the region after Odia.

There are seven candidates in the fray for the prestigious Parlakhemundi assembly seat. But the contest is between BJD, Congress and BJP.

Though Narayan Rao is confident of winning the seat, he is not sure whether he could popularize lotus symbol among the voters in a short span of time. 

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