BJD supremo Naveen sitting pretty in Hinjili

BJD supremo Naveen sitting pretty in Hinjili

Berhampur: The BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is seeking re-election for the sixth time in a row, is sitting pretty in Hinjili...

Berhampur: The BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is seeking re-election for the sixth time in a row, is sitting pretty in Hinjili Assembly constituency in Ganjam district.

The BJP has fielded a fresh face, Sisir Mishra, against Naveen and is considered as a weak candidate in the poll battle with the BJD supremo. Sisir is the younger brother of late Sarat Mishra, who was a BJP leader and worked for creating a support base for the saffron party in Ganjam. Sisir had worked as coordinator for BJP candidate and lawyer Pitambar Acharya in Hinjili in 2019.

However, Sisir said he is a local lad, having completed his schooling and college education in Hinjili. He is the grandson of freedom fighter Jagannath Mishra, who had fought against former minister and eight-time Congress MLA Brundaban Nayak.

Sisir said he would seek votes on the basis of ‘Modi’s Guarantee’ to realise the vision of a safe and prosperous India under his leadership. Now the saffron party has been gaining strength in Hinjili constituency and BJP had given BJD a tough fight in the last municipal election, having secured 5,200 votes against the ruling party’s 6,400 votes.

Debananda Mahapatra, who created some base for BJP in Hinjili earlier, has now joined BJD and the BJP now would depend mainly on Pradeep Panigrahi, who is the party candidate for Berhampur Lok Sabha seat and was the representative Naveen Patnaik decades ago when he was in BJD. Pradeep can join the BJP election campaign in Hinjili as he is well acquainted with the constituency, having managed it on behalf of the Chief Minister for several years.

The Congress, which has little support base in the area, is yet to declare its candidate for Hinjili Assembly constituency. Though there are many aspirants, the party may field Ganjam District Congress Committee president Dipak Patnaik against Naveen, according to sources.

If the BJD returns to power in 2024, Naveen will become the longest-serving Chief Minister in the country, surpassing the record of Pawan Kumar Chamling of Sikkim.

Naveen made his debut in the electoral battle in 1997 and won the by-election to Aska Lok Sabha seat as a nominee of the erstwhile Janata Dal. The seat had fallen vacant following the death of his father Biju Patnaik.

The Chief Minister had been elected to the State Assembly for the first time in 2000 from Hinjili. He won the elections from Hinjili by a margin of over 29,826 votes in 2000. The margin increased to 76,586 votes in the 2014 Assembly elections, but dropped to 60,160 votes five years later. In the last Assembly election, the BJD president contested from Hinjili along with Bijepur, a western Odisha constituency, and won both seats. He, however, retained Hinjili.

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