Rajashree Mallick grapples with challenges to retain Jagatsinghpur LS seat

JAGATSINGHPUR: Sitting MP and BJD’s Lok Sabha candidate from Jagatsinghpur Rajashree Mallick is facing an uphill task to retain her seat.

Unlike the 2019 election, Mallick now faces opposition from her own constituents, particularly in her native Tirtol where residents are protesting her lack of engagement with voters. Besides, she is also fighting anti-incumbency and internal conflicts in the party amid criticism over her failure to utilise the MP Local Area Development (LAD) funds.

Recently, residents of Tirtol held a protest meeting, voicing their discontent with Mallick’s perceived neglect and apathy. Former sarpanch of Tirtol panchayat Manoranjan Mohapatra said the MP has been given a seven-day ultimatum to address their grievances or face more protests.

Similarly in Paradip, villagers are criticising Mallick for failing to properly utilise MPLAD funds and her alleged lack of outreach to voters. Social media has been abuzz with discussions about Mallick’s limited engagement in the area.

In Kakatpur Assembly segment, internal conflicts within the BJD have deepened with a section of party workers supporting MLA candidate Tusarkanti Behera and others backing former legislator Surendra Sethy. This has created further divisions within the party. In Niali, the BJD is facing similar conflicts among its rank and file.

Nimapara’s political landscape too is witnessing a significant shift with BJD workers and supporters of sitting MLA Samir Dash defecting to BJP after he was denied a party ticket. This has strengthened the position of BJP candidate Pravati Parida who secured the second position in the last election.

These issues have provided an opportunity for BJP’s LS candidate Bibhu Prasad Tarai and Congress nominee Rabindra Sethy to challenge Mallick’s position. Tarai said the anti-incumbency factor and intra-party conflicts within the BJD along with BJP’s push for major infrastructure projects would contribute to his success in the upcoming election.

Sethy said both the BJD government in the state and the BJP-led Centre have failed to meet the public expectations, leading voters to consider supporting Congress. Despite repeated attempts, Mallick was not available for her comments on these issues.

The LS constituency consists of Jagatsinghpur, Tirtol, Paradip, Balikuda-Erasama, Kakatpur, Niali and Nimapara Assembly segments. In 2019 election, Mallick had defeated BJP’s Tarai by a margin of 1.62 lakh votes.

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