Bhubaneswar, Feb 5:
With the upcoming general elections on the horizon, the three major political players - BJP, BJD, and Congress - have commenced their strategic maneuvers in selecting candidates. In the Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency, all indications point towards the introduction of fresh faces by each party.
Bhartruhari Mahtab, a seasoned leader of the BJD, has clinched victory in the Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency for an impressive six consecutive terms since 1998. However, rumors abound that the ruling BJD might opt for a new candidate this time around, sidelining Mahtab.
Allegedly, Mahtab's divergent stance on certain issues and purportedly close ties with the BJP have contributed to this decision, prompting the BJD to consider alternative contenders for the Cuttack parliamentary seat.
During the previous election in 2019, Mahtab secured a resounding victory with 514,596 votes, leaving his nearest rival, BJP candidate Prakash Mishra (Ex-DGP), trailing far behind with 403,329 votes. The Congress candidate, Panchanan Kanungo, secured a distant third position with only 99,847 votes.
Significantly, Mahtab's apparent detachment from party activities has raised eyebrows. His absence from crucial events, such as the foundation stone laying ceremony for the mega metro rail project in his constituency, and his non-participation in key programs like 'Ama Odisha –Nabin Odisha', indicate a potential estrangement from the BJD ranks. These developments hint strongly at the likelihood of Mahtab not being nominated again by the BJD in Cuttack.
Conversely, BJP's former candidate Prakash Mishra has shown little inclination towards active political engagement post the 2019 election. Speculation is rife that Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw might step in as the BJP candidate for the Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency this time.
Meanwhile, the Congress party is actively scouting for a fresh face to contest from the Cuttack Lok Sabha seat. Their objective is to field a candidate capable of challenging the dominance of both the ruling BJD and the BJP contenders in the upcoming election.