BJP appeared set for major gains in Lok Sabha polls in Odisha with its candidates leading in nine seats, while the ruling BJD is ahead in 12. As per the latest trend, BJP candidates are leading in Balasore, Bargarh, Bhubaneswar, Balangir, Kalahandi, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Puri, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Surendra Kumar said.
This is a great shift from 2014 when the saffron party had won only one out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats.Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, which had a spectacular show in the 2014 polls by winning 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats, saw its tally sliding slightly as its candidates were now leading in 12 seats.
Union Minister Jual Oram, who is leading over his nearest rival George Tirkey of Congress by around one lakh votes in Sundargarh, was the only BJP candidate to have won a seat.
This time in all Lok Sabha constituencies, barring Puri, where BJP candidates are leading had seen rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run up to the elections. The saffron party is seeing a neck to neck fight in Mayurbhanj parliamentary seat where BJP candidate Bishweswar Tudu is leading over BJD by only 97 votes till 5.30 pm.
BJP's Puri candidate Sambit Patra, an official spokesman of the party, is ahead of BJD candidate and sitting MP Pinaki Mishra by only 6,150 votes in a closely fought contest.
Likewise, firebrand leader and BJP candidate Pratap Sarangi is leading by a thin margin of 4,474 votes against BJD nominee and sitting MP Rabindra Kumar Jena in Balasore. Former bureaucrat and BJP nominee Aparajita Sarangi is ahead of BJD's Arup Mohan Patnaik, a retired IPS officer and ex-Mumbai police commissioner, by 12,494 votes.
In Bolangir seat, BJP candidate Sangeeta Singhdeo is ahead of her brother-in-law and sitting BJD MP, Kalikesh Narayan Singhdeo by 13,023 votes. BJP's state president Basant Panda is leading over BJD's Pushpendra Singhdeo in Kalahandi by 29,734 votes, while Nitesh Ganga Deb of the party is ahead of BJD's Nalini Pradhan by 19,788 votes in Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat.
In Bargarh, BJP national secretary and party nominee Suresh Pujari is leading over his BJD rival and Rajya Sabha MP Prasanna Acharya by 31,741 votes. Of the seven women candidates fielded by BJD as per the party's decision to reserve 33 per cent seats, six were leading against their BJP rivals. Only Sunita Biswal was in the third position in Sundargarh.
Naveen Patnaik's strategic choice of nominating a woman self help group leader, Pramila Bisoyi seemed to have paid rich dividend to BJD. Bisoyi, who is in her seventies, is leading by over 1,30,831 votes against BJP's Anita Subhadarshini in her maiden poll battle.
In Berhampur, BJD candidate Chandra Sekhar Sahu is leading against BJP's Bhrugu Baxipatra by 69,391 votes, while Manjulata Mandal was ahead of BJP candidate Abhimanyu Sethi by 9599 votes in Bhadrak seat. In Cuttack and Dhenkanal, BJD's Bhartruhari Mahtab and Mahesh Sahu are leading by 39811 and 19449 votes against BJP rivals respectively.
BJD woman candidate Rajasjree Mallick is well ahead of her BJP rival Bibhu Prasad Tarai by 1,20,579 votes in Jagatsinghpur, while former OAS officer Sarmistha Sethi of BJD is leading against BJP's Amiya Mallick in Jajpur Lok Sabha seat by 87559 votes.
In Keonjhar and Koraput, BJD's women candidates Chandrani Murmu and Kausalya Hikaka are leading by 34,071 and 20,964 votes respectively. In politically-sensitive Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat, BJD's Rajya Sabha MP Anubhav Mohanty is leading against BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda by 61,043 votes.
Similarly, BJD Rajya Sabha MP Achyutananda Samanta was ahead of BJP's Kharbela Swain by 73,462 votes, while Odisha minister and BJD nominee Ramesh Chandra Majhi is leading against Congress candidate Pradeep Majhi by 45,635 votes in Nabarangpur Lok Sabha segment.