Odisha: Twelve royal family members in the fray

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | April 21, 2024 IST

Bhubaneswar, April, 20: Odisha’s political landscape has long been intertwined with royal families, and the upcoming elections continue this tradition. 

Odisha has a history of royal families participating in electoral battles. In the current twin elections, 12 royals are in the fray: 10 contesting Assembly seats and 2 as MP candidates.

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has chosen a majority of royal members for Assembly seats, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Lok Sabha candidates from royal families. The Congress has only one royal family member as a candidate.

In Southern Odisha, the royals of Chikiti, Dharakote, and Khallikote have historically influenced voters.

The queens of Chikiti and Dharakote, Usha Devi and Nandini Devi, are now paving the way for their young heirs to continue the political legacy. These mothers are actively campaigning for their scions.

Usha Devi, wife of Trigunateeta Deb, first represented the Chikiti Assembly segment in 1990 (winning on a Janata Dal ticket). She went on to win the seat six times.

Her father-in-law, Sachidananda Narayan Deb, was elected MLA of Chikiti twice in 1971 and 1974 on a Congress ticket.

Usha Devi has chosen her engineer son, Chinmayananda Srirup Deb, to continue the family’s political journey. The BJD has granted Srirup a ticket.

Gitanjali Devi, the third generation of the Dharakote royal family, has received the BJD ticket from the Sanakhemundi Assembly segment.

She is the daughter of former BJD MLA Nandini Devi, who was Gitanjali’s election manager in the 2019 polls.

The second generation of Dharakote royals had political roots in the BJP. Nandini Devi fought the seat on a BJP ticket in 2009 but lost. After her husband Kishore Chandra Singh Deo’s death, she joined BJD and was elected as an MLA in 2014.

The Dharakote royal family’s political legacy began with Ananta Narayan Singhdeo, who won the Soroda Assembly segment multiple times and served as a cabinet minister.

While titles like ‘raja’ and ‘rani’ have lost significance, the political parties they represent now determine their influence and vote banks.

In Western Odisha, the BJP has retained Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo (from the Patnagarh royal family) as the Balangir MP Candidate and chosen Kalahandi queen Malavika Keshari Deo as the Kalahandi MP face.

The rich history of royal families in Odisha continues to shape its political landscape, with scions and heirs carrying forward their legacies in the democratic process.

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