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Odisha man who walked 1,500 km to meet PM gets Cong ticket. He declines

Muktikanta Biswal made headlines when he walked for 71 days, carrying the Indian tricolour and a big hoarding. to remind PM Modi of his promise to get the Ispat General Hospital in Rourkela upgraded.

lok sabha elections Updated: Mar 23, 2019 22:56 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Muktikanta Biswal,Narendra Modi,Odisha
Muktikanta Biswal had walked over 1,500 km last year from Rourkela to New Delhi in his bid to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He could not meet PM Modi.(Twitter)

Muktikanta Biswal, the 31-year-old idol maker from Odisha, hit the headlines last year when he walked for 71 days covering more than 1,500 km in his attempt to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He carried with him the Indian tricolour and a big hoarding to remind PM Modi of his promise to get the Ispat General Hospital in Rourkela upgraded. He claimed that PM Modi had promised upgrading the hospital into a super multi-specialty facility.

Biswal fainted on a highway before reaching Delhi. He was admitted to a hospital in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. He, however, failed to meet PM Modi upon his arrival in the national capital. Now, Biswal is the Congress candidate for Rourkela assembly constituency in Odisha.

Muktikanta Biswal, however, declined the offer. Biswal said he will not contest the election.

The Congress’s list for Odisha assembly polls also features Subhashree Panda, the wife of jailed Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda. She is a party candidate from Ranpur assembly seat.

Another Congress candidate with connection with alleged Maoist link is Sangram Mohanty. The 38-year-old Congress candidate from Suruda assembly constituency is the son former Maoist ideologue Dandapani Mohanty.

Former PCC chief Prasad Harichandan and his father-in-law Suresh Routray would also contest on Congress tickets from Satyabadi and Jatni assembly seats respectively.

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on late Friday night announced candidates for seven more Lok Sabha seats and 76 assembly seats in Odisha.

The BJP list includes party’s national spokesman Dr Sambit Patra. The BJP announced candidates for four more Lok Sabha seats and 22 assembly constituencies. The Congress announced candidates for two more Lok Sabha seats and 54 assembly seats in the state.

The BJP has so far announced the candidates for 15 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 121 of the 147 assembly seats while Congress has nominated contestants at eight Lok Sabha seats and 90 assembly seats in Odisha.

Ruling Biju Janata Dal has so far announced the candidate list for nine Lok Sabha seats and 54 assembly seats.

Simultaneous polls will be held in Odisha for 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 assembly constituencies in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29. The last date for filing of nominations is April 4.

Patra, who did his MBBS from Odisha, is the BJP candidate from Puri Lok Sabha seat while the state unit president Basant Panda has been nominated from Kalahandi parliamentary constituency. There were wide speculations over PM Modi contesting from Puri in an effort to give a boost to the party’s chances in coastal Odisha.

For Koraput Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP ignored nine-time MP and former Chief Minister Giridhari Gamang preferring to controversial former MP Jayram Pangi.

Surprisingly, the party also chose to ignore Bajrang Dal’s former national president Subash Chouhan, who had lost to BJD candidate in 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Bargarh by a margin of just about 11,000 votes.

BJP legislator in the outgoing Odisha assembly and member of erstwhile royalty of Deogarh, Nitesh Gangdeb is the party candidate from Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency. Actor Pinky Pradhan, among the first from Odia film fraternity to join the BJP, has been nominated from Digapahandi assembly constituency.

On the other hand, the Congress has fielded poultry businessman Samarendra Mishra, who owns one of the largest layered bird units in western Odisha, on the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat. Mishra is the son of the Leader of Opposition in Odisha state legislature Narasingha Mishra, who is also contesting on the Congress ticket from Bolangir assembly constituency.

Saptagiri Ulaka, software engineer at Infosys and son of late Congress MP Ramachandra Ulaka is the party candidate from Koraput Lok Sabha constituency.

The candidate announcement has, however, led to dissidence in all the three major parties. The supporters of BJP leader from Bhubaneswar, Amiya Das locked the party’s state office on Friday morning.

The supporters of Das, a long-time aspirant for Bhubaneswar-Ekamra assembly constituency, staged a sit-in front of the party headquarters. The BJP office Laxmipur was also targeted. His supporters ransacked the office opposing the candidature of Kumuda Saunta.

Duryodhan Majhi, sitting BJP MLA of Khariar and former minister resigned from the party after the wife of former MLA Hitesh Bagarti was chosen as the party candidate on the assembly seat. Ruling BJD has seen more than a dozen MPs and MLAs leaving the party in last seven days after they were denied election tickets.

First Published: Mar 23, 2019 13:14 IST