Bhubaneswar: Ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) candidate Sabitri Agarwalla has won the Patkura Assembly seat, defeating her Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rival Bijoy Mohapatra by a margin of 17,898 votes. The election results have once again established the constituency as the citadel of the BJD.
According to Kendrapara Collector Samarth Verma, Agarwalla bagged 96,017 votes defeating rival Bijoy Mohapatra who came second with 78,097 votes. Congress ended up with a dismal show as party candidate Jayanta Kumar Mohanty received only 2,104 votes. Mohanty had received 42,138 votes in 2014 elections.
However, the poll results announced Wednesday clearly indicated the increasing influence of BJP in Patkura constituency with a rise in its voting percentage. In 2014, the saffron party’s Manas Ranjan Mohanty got 21,588 votes whereas Bijoy garnered 78,097 votes, a rise by 56,509 votes in 2019.
BJD took an early lead in the counting of votes for election to the Patkura constituency and maintained a steady lead right through the 19 rounds of counting for 309 polling booths.
With this election, the efforts of Mohapatra, a bete noire of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, to enter state Assembly has been foiled. He has unsuccessfully contested the election in the last two decades. Mohapatra, a former minister, had played a key role in the BJD’s formation after the death of the then Chief Minister Biju Patnaik in 1997.
BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik thanked the voters of the constituency for the mandate. He also congratulated the BJD candidate and party workers. “I would like to express my deep gratitude to the people of Patkura for electing the BJD candidate in this election. We will continue to work hard for Patkura’s development and welfare,” Naveen told reporters.
“I thank the people of my constituency and the Chief Minister for having reposed faith in me. I will try my best to serve the people,” said Sabitri Agarwalla.
Mohapatra said he was surprised at the outcome and said, “I respect people’s mandate. Several senior leaders of the ruling party have been deployed in the constituency and money was distributed to every household. There were also allegations of EVM glitches.”
Accepting the people’s mandate, Congress candidate Mohanty said, “I am responsible for my performance. I think, the chunk of Congress votes has gone to BJP and the result is surprising.” He also alleged that several Congress leaders had worked at cross purposes in this election, which is an offence.
The constituency went to poll July 20 after being postponed twice in the past few months. The poll, scheduled for April 29, was cancelled following the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwalla April 20. Later, it was postponed due to cyclone Fani that battered the state May 3.
Taking this victory into account, the BJD’s virtual strength in the state Assembly has gone up to 112.
The party had won 112 seats in the recently-concluded Assembly elections, but, Naveen Patnaik left his second seat Bijepur, which will soon go for by-election