Dharmendra Pradhan’s poll plan ups political heat in Odisha

Dharmendra Pradhan’s poll plan ups political heat in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Political climate of the state has begun to heat up after Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced that he will be contesting in the next general elections. While the ruling BJD exuded confidence of forming the next government in the state for the sixth time despite Pradhan’s entry, the Congress welcomed his decision.

Even as Pradhan holds his cards close on the matter of contesting for Assembly or Lok Sabha and the constituency of his choice, there has been speculations that he has been preparing ground to try his luck from Dhenkanal parliamentary seat. Pradhan has been frequenting Dhenkanal district ever since the party launched the Lok Sabha Pravas programme under which Union ministers are visiting different parliamentary constituencies and spending nights there.

Sambalpur is the other Lok Sabha seat that is stated to be the choice of Pradhan. Political analysts feel Sambalpur will be safer than Dhenkanal which has been favouring the BJD in the last few elections. Nitish Ganga Deb, the scion of the Deogarh royal familiy, is the sitting MP from Sambalpur while three Assembly constituencies under the seat are represented by BJP.

At the Express Dialogues event of TNIE, Odisha Chapter, on Friday, Pradhan said he has sought the permission of the Central leadership to contest in the 2024 election. He, however, did not divulge his preference for Assembly or Lok Sabha. Welcoming Pradhan’s decision, state BJP president Samir Mohanty said as Union minister, he has done a lot for the state.

The party will benefit the most if he joins the electoral battle. Reacting to this development, senior BJD leader Amar Prasad Satpathy told a news channel that his party will welcome all who would like to contest from anywhere they like.

“The BJD is ready to face anyone as the party is sure of winning the next Assembly election and forming the government again,” Satpathy said. On the other hand, senior Congress leader and Jatni MLA Suresh Kumar Routray expressed his happiness over Pradhan’s decision.

“He (Pradhan) has done a lot of work for the state during his two stints as union minister. He has executed projects worth Rs 7,000 crore for Jatani alone. He has brought an investment of Rs 3,500 crore by setting up an oil depot in the state. The revival of the defunct fertiliser plant at Talcher is his other achievement,” the Congress MLA said. “I welcome his decision to contest the next election. The state will benefit most if Pradhan is elected,” he added.

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