Orissa ex-royals in fray
The erstwhile princely states may not be in existence today, but members of royal families in Orissa have taken to politics as duck to water.
Over a dozen members of royal families have entered the electoral fray in the state this time distributing themselves among the three main political parties--- ruling BJD-BJP and opposition Congress.
Congress leader and former Union Minister Kamakhya Prasad Singh Deo, the six time MP from Dhenkanal, is looking for his seventh win from the parliamentary seat. A scion of the Dhenkanal royal family, he first won the Lok Sabha polls in 1967.
Singh Deo, as in 1999, is pitted against his old rival Tathagat Satpathy, who is the younger son of former chief minister Nandini Satpathy.
Incidentally, Singh Deo's son Amarjyoti is making his electoral debut this time contesting from the Gondia assembly seat which forms part of his father's Lok Sabha constituency.
The royal families of Balangir and Kalahandi wielded immense political clout as its leaders--- former rulers of the princely states---led the state's first regional outfit, the Ganatantra Parishad.
Former ruler of Patna (now Balangir) Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo---who was chief minister between 1967-71--- and former maharaja of Kalahandi Pratap Keshari Deo were the driving force behind the party which was regarded as the biggest rival of the Congress in the 1950's and early 1960's.
Minister of Steel and Mines Ananga Uday Singh Deo, son of late Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo, is seeking re-election from the Balangir assembly constituency as a BJD nominee.
Popularly known as 'Au' in political circles, Singh Deo is pitted against Muzzaffar Hussain Khan.
Au Singh Deo's son Kalikesh has also entered the fray for the first time seeking election from Saintala constituency where former minister Surendra Singh Bhoi (Congress) is his main rival.
Industries Minister Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo, who is Au Singh Deo's nephew (elder brother late Raj Singh Deo's son), is seeking his third consecutive win from the Patnagarh seat as a BJP candidate.
Patnagarh is one of the seven segments of the Balangir lok sabha constituency from where Singh Deo's wife Sangeeta Singh Deo is also poised to register a hattrick of victories this time under the BJP banner.
Sangeeta is facing her old rival and former PCC chief Sarat Patnaik once again.
Bikram Keshari Deo (younger son of former Maharaja of Kalahandi, late Pratap Keshari Deo), who has been a bjp member of the lower house having won the 1998 and 1999 polls, is seeking re-election from the Kalahandi parliamentary seat. He is facing former Railway Minister Bhakta Charan Das of Congress.
Deo's nephew Ananta Pratap Deo had also filed his papers as a Congress candidate to contest from Junagarh assembly seat. But his nomination was rejected during scrutiny.
Nitish Gangadev, a scion of the Deogarh royal family and son of former MLA Pradipta Gangadev, has entered the fray from the Deogarh seat against BJP's Subash Panigrahi.
At Surada assembly constituency in Ganjam district, the electoral battle would be fought between Kishore Chandra Singh Deo, son of late Ananta Narayan Singh Deo, erstwhile ruler of Dharakote, and the latter's niece Khirod Kumari Devi.
While Singh Deo is the BJP nominee, his cousin is the Congress candidate.
Congress debutant from Khariar, Deb Deb Singh Deo, hails from the Khariar royal family and is the grand son of Anup Singh Deo, who was a former minister.
V.Sugnana kumari Deo, a senior BJD leader, who belongs to the erstwhile ruling family of Khallikote, already had a long stint in politics and is seeking re-election from Khallikote.
Among others with links with ruling families are Usha Devi (Chikiti), Puspendra Singh Deo (Koksara) and Pratap Keshari Deb (Aul), all of whom belonged to the BJD.