Journalist-turned-politician Mohanty livens up Puri contest
Going for a fourth successive win in Odisha assembly elections and a stellar showing in Lok Sabha polls being held simultaneously, chief minister Naveen Patnaik is facing a tough challenge in his coastal stronghold.
Amid the Lok Sabha contests Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal is locked in on Thursday, one of the liveliest is in Puri.
The Congress has fielded former New Delhi-based journalist Sucharita Mohanty against the BJD's sitting MP and Supreme Court lawyer Pinaki Mishra from the constituency that houses the Jagannath Temple.
Though this is Mohanty's first foray into politics, she is no stranger to it. Her father and veteran Congress leader Brajamohan Mohanty was a former Union minister and speaker of Odisha assembly.
She has mounted a strong campaign and is among the few enterprising leaders of the state to have truly reached out to voters through the social media.
"My agenda for Puri is 'Mission Shakti, Vision Shakti'. My focus will be empowerment of women, employment of youth, healthcare and sanitation. As a person from the media, I can understand that Puri has a lot of potential for cottage, agro-based, traditional handicraft industry and tourism, just like Kerala," Mohanty said.
"There is so much sugarcane production in the district but there is no sugar factory. Thousands depend on tourism for their livelihood, but there is no concrete plan to attract tourists. Proper infrastructure and cleanliness will create magic in Puri."
During her campaigning across the seven assembly segments that comprise the Puri Lok Sabha constituency, Mohanty was not bogged down by "outsider" taunts.
"A daughter is never an outsider in her parental home. Puri is my Janmaboomi. I was brought up and educated in Puri… I have been living in Delhi in pursuit of my career."