Bhubaneswar, April 21 (IANS) It's a fight between a former IAS official and an ex-IPS officer in the prestigious Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency in Odisha.
For the first time, Bhubaneswar, which goes to the polls in the third phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 23, will witness a battle between two ex-bureaucrats.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded former IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi, who will lock horns with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate and former Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik. The BJD has denied ticket to its five-time sitting MP Prasanna Patasani.
Interestingly, both the former bureaucrats have plunged into electoral politics for the first time.
The Congress, meanwhile, has backed senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Janardan Pati to give challenge to the new entrants in this high decibel political battle.
However, political observers feel that it will be a direct fight between the ruling BJD and the BJP for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat.
Sarangi, who was serving as a Joint Secretary with the Union government, took voluntary retirement to join the BJP last November. Patnaik, on the other hand, was looking after the affairs of the Biju Yuva Vahini in the state after formally joining the BJD last year.
Both the candidates are toiling hard in the campaign field to impress the voters.
Sarangi, who has served as the Commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Khordha District Collector, is a known face. She is leaving no stone unturned to make her presence felt in the constituency ever since she joined the saffron party.
Former Mumbai top cop Patnaik, who is relatively new to the constituency, hopes to ride on the organisational strength of the BJD and the popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is eyeing a fifth the consecutive term as the Chief Minister.
The Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency comprises seven Assembly segments -- Jayadev (SC), Bhubaneswar Central, Bhubaneswar North, Ekamra-Bhubaneswar, Jatani, Begunia and Khordha.
It has been the citadel of the ruling BJD since 1998. Sitting MP Prasanna Patsani has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Bhubaneswar five times in a row -- in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.
In 1996, Congress candidate Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, now a BJD Rajya Sabha MP, was elected from this Lok Sabha constituency. Before that, late CPM leader Sivaji Patnaik was elected from the seat thrice -- in 1977, 1989 and 1991.
In 2014, Patasani defeated BJP candidate Prithviraj Harichandan from the seat by securing 49.25 per cent of the total votes polled. Patsani bagged 4,39,252 votes, Harichandan got 2,49,775 votes while yesteryear film star Bijay Mohanty, whom Congress had fielded, came a distant third with 1,45,783 votes.
The Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency has over 16 lakh voters, including 8,64,256 men, 7,36,263 women and 381 belonging to the 'other' category, as per the Election Commission data.
Both Sarangi and Patnaik are hoping that the electorates will bless them in the elections after star campaigners of the BJD and the BJP campaigned for them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a roadshow in Bhubaneswar and addressed a rally at the Baramunda ground here. BJD President and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also held several meetings and roadshows in different Assembly constituencies of Bhubaneswar.
"As I move around the Bhubaneswar parliamentary constituency, the undercurrent for a strong and decisive government led by Narendra Modi is becoming more apparent. Many localities of Bhubaneswar have realised the tactic of the ruling BJD in distributing money and liquor, and are now ready to call its bluff," said Sarangi.
Patnaik is pinning his hopes on the Chief Minister's popularity and the organisational strength of the BJD, which won all the Assembly seats coming under the Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 and 2009.
The BJD had also won the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation elections the last two times.
"I am interacting with the maximum number of constituents and discussing their problems. The Chief Minister has worked tirelessly for the people. I hope the people will bless me to serve them," said Patnaik.