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'Pua' vs 'Bohu' on Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat

Ironically, the son of Odisha, BJD's Arup Patnaik, has spent most of his life working in Maharashtra, including as Mumbai police chief, but Aparajita Sarangi (BJP), the "bohu", has worked for 19 years in Odisha. Sarangi resigned from her job six months ago to contest the poll.

PTI PTI
Bhubaneswar Published on: April 22, 2019 17:12 IST
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'Pua' vs 'Bohu' on Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat

The fight for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency is between a retired police officer and a former IAS officer. One of them is referred to as Odia "pua" (son) and the other as "bohu" (daughter-in-law).

Ironically, the son of Odisha, BJD's Arup Patnaik, has spent most of his life working in Maharashtra, including as Mumbai police chief, but Aparajita Sarangi (BJP), the "bohu", has worked for 19 years in Odisha. Sarangi resigned from her job six months ago to contest the poll.

Political observers say it's a straight fight between the two former bureaucrats. Congress has left Bhubaneswar to CPI(M) which has fielded its stalwart Janardan Pati. There are 11 more candidates in the electoral fray.

Left party heavyweight Shivaji Patnaik had won this seat in 1989 and 1991 elections.

Bihar-born Aparajita Sarangi is married to IAS officer Santosh Sarangi. The 19 years she has spent in Odisha may work to her advantage.

She gained popularity among locals during her stint as commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and secretary of the state's school and mass education department.
She is known as a strict administrator who likes to be in the field and not in air-conditioned offices. Sarangi said she has covered 200 villages and 100 urban wards in Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency.

Patnaik is also undertaking intensive campaign. Other than his experience, he is banking on the popularity and clean image of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

"This parliamentary seat is held by BJD since 1998. This apart, all the seven assembly segments also have BJD MLAs. Therefore, it will not be difficult for me to get votes," he said adding three assembly segments will solidly back him because of Naveen Patnaik's popularity.

Of the seven assembly segments, Bhubaneswar-Central, Bhubaneswar-North and Ekamra Bhubaneswar come under BMC area while the remaining four — Jaydev, Jatni, Khurda and Begunia — are under Khurda district of which Sarangi had been the collector.

This time, the BJD has replaced sitting MP Prasanna Patsani who had been winning the seat since 1998 and fielded Patnaik.

The BJD candidate also heads the Biju Yuva Bahini, a group of volunteers dedicated to social service. Therefore, he hopes to get more support from youth and first-time voters.

Sarangi, on the other hand, says she quit her job and joined politics after being influenced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Still, she banks more on her work and public connect than the party's base.

In 2014 election, then BJP candidate Prithiwiraj Harichandan got only 28 per cent of votes while BJD nominee Prasanna Patsani won the seat by securing 49.25 per cent of votes.
In such a situation, it's likely to be a tough fight for Sarangi.

"People accept me with a positive mindset," she said, dismissing the challenge.

She said her emphasis is more on local issues than what is happening on the Pakistan border.

During her roadside meetings, Sarangi says she never speaks against her political rival.
"I do not criticise anyone. I give importance to my work. I know my work will pay and not speaking against anyone would," she said.

But she makes sure she makes an appeal to people to not boycott election.

Replying a question on her Bihari origin, she said as per Indian traditions, a bohu sets the house of her husband in order. "I am doing my duty as a bohu to my husband's state," the 1994-batch IAS officer said.

She is fluent in Odia language and her supporters claim that Sarangi speaks better Odia than Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

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