Odisha’s Berhampur parliamentary constituency that boasts about electing former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1996 will have a triangular fight this time between the BJD, the BJP and the Congress.In this constituency that goes to the polls in the first phase on April 11, three major parties have fielded new candidates. The BJD has dropped Siddhant Mohapatra, the cine-star turned MP of Berhampur in 2009 and 2014. The party is fielding former Union Minister Chandrasekhar Sahu as its candidate. Mr. Sahu as the Congress candidate had lost to Mr. Mohapatra twice in the past and had joined the BJD in 2018. However, the party hopes for a hat-trick through him from Berhampur.Without Mr. Sahu, the Congress has fielded V. Chandrasekhar Naidu, an energy sector industrialist from New Delhi having ancestral links with the region. He is completely new to politics and this constituency. The party hopes to garner sizeable Telugu voters in the constituency that made former PM choose it in 1996.The BJP had won this seat in 1999 during the Kargil-wave, but as an ally of the BJD. This time hoping to ride on the post-Pulwama air strike sentiments, the BJP has fielded its State secretary Bhrugu Baxipatra. The party is also planning a rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen its prospects. The BJP leaders feel the voters here vote differently for the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituency although both elections are held together. From 1957 till 1996, Berhampur continued to be a safe bastion for the Congress where even the anti-Emergency wave of 1977 had failed to work. The magic has vanished since the past two decades. The Congress had managed to win back this seat in 2004. However, with Mr. Sahu and several other key party leaders now in the BJD, the organisational strength of the Congress has gone down in the Berhampur parliamentary constituency. Berhampur, Gopalpur, Chhatrapur, Digapahandi, Chikiti, Mohana, Paralakhemundi Assembly segments where the polling will be held on April 11 are part of Berhampur Lok Sabha seat. Mohana happens to be a reserved seat for the Scheduled Castes.
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