Naveen Patnaik wins prestige fight at Patkura Assembly seat

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BHUBANESWAR: Odisha’s ruling BJD won the Patkura Assembly seat on Wednesday with its candidate Sabitri Agarwal defeating his nearest rival, the BJP’s Bijoy Mohapatra, by 17,920 votes, an election official said.

Patkura Assembly election was seen as a prestige battle for chief minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik with his bete noire, Mohapatra, locking horns with Agarwal.

The BJD candidate polled 96,017 votes while Mohapatra secured 78,097 votes in the constituency in coastal Kendrapara district where polling had been postponed twice in last few months.

Congress finished a poor third with its nominee Jayanta Kumar Mohanty bagging only 2,104 votes.

With Agarwal’s victory, the BJD’s strength in the assembly increased to 112.

One seat in the 147-member House is still vacant as the chief minister, who had contested from two seats, had resigned from Bijepur and retained his home turf Hinjili.

Patnaik thanked the people of Patkura for ensuring victory of the ruling party candidate.

Mohapatra, who had won assembly polls from Patkura in 1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995, was considered a close confidant of Biju Patnaik and a member of the legendary leader’s ministry in his last term.

Though a founder member of BJD, Mohapatra failed to contest the 2000 polls when the party cancelled his ticket at the eleventh hour. After being ousted from the BJD, Mohapatra has lost all the elections since then.

Mohapatra said the result has come as a surprise for him and claimed that the mood of the people in the run up to the election was clearly in his favour.

“However, we have to accept the verdict of the people in a democracy,” he said.

Agarwal thanked Patnaik for reposing faith in her and giving her an opportunity to serve the people of Patkura, which was earlier represented by her late husband.

Both the BJP and the Congress described the BJD’s victory as an outcome of rampant use of money and muscle power.

Polling in Patkura Assembly seat was initially scheduled on April 29 along with the general elections, but it could not be held because of the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwal on April 20. BJD subsequently fielded his widow Sabitri Agarwal for the seat.

The Election Commission had then fixed May 19 as the new date for the polls in Patkura. However, it was further postponed following cyclone Fani that barrelled through coastal Odisha on May 3.

Following the ruling party’s victory, celebrations erupted at BJD offices in Bhubaneswar and Kendrapara as party workers were seen bursting crackers and distributing sweets.

Source: Press Trust of India