04 April 2019
Bhubaneswar: As there are 21 Lok Sabha constituencies in Odisha, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo-cum-Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has kept his promise of 33 per cent women reservation by fielding seven female candidates for the upcoming general elections.
From a grassroots level elderly worker to an able doctor as well as a technocrat, these seven candidates embody the spirit of female empowerment and are ready to put on a tough fight.
Meet the seven candidates:
1) Aska- Pramila Bisoi
This septuagenarian and much experienced Self Help Group (SHG) leader of the southern Odisha district of Ganjam is coincidentally representing Aska parliamentary seat from where BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had started his political career 20 years ago.
As a tribute to the lakhs of women involved in the Mission Shakti movement of Odisha, regional satrap Naveen Patnaik has already mentioned, “Smt Bisoi is widely respected as a grassroot leader and has used her leadership to influence and create awareness on wide ranging issues like sanitation, vaccination, institutional delivery, environment protection, literacy, etc.”
She has been pitted against BJP candidate Anita Priyadarshini and Ramakrushna Panda of CPI.
2) Koraput- Koushalya Hikaka
She is also a first timer in electoral politics like Smt Bisoi. Nevetheless, she has the political experience as she is the wife of sitting Koraput MP Jhina Hikaka. The BJD supremo this time preferred her to be in the fray in place of her husband. She has been pitted against BJP’s Jayaram Pangi and Saptagiri Ulaka of Congress.
3) Sundargarh- Sunita Biswal
She hails from a political background since her childhood being the daughter of former Chief Minister of Odisha and veteran Congress leader Hemananda Biswal. Despite being from the Congress lineage, Sunita quit the grand old party and joined BJD last month.
BJD has fielded her against sitting Sundargarh MP-cum-Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram of BJP and influential tribal leader George Tirkey of Congress.
4) Keonjhar- Chandrani Murmu
This technocrat from tribal-dominated Keonjhar district is a debutante in electoral politics. But, she has the political background like Sunita as she is the granddaughter of former Keonjhar MP Harihar Soren. She is a young mechanical engineer and she has been given BJD ticket soon after her joining the regional party.
This young technocrat has been pitted against Ananta Nayak of BJP and Congressman Mohan Hembrum.
5) Bhadrak- Manjulata Mandal
As has been the case of BJD’s Koraput MP candidate Koushalya Hikaka, this MP candidate of Badrak is the wife of sitting Dhamnagar MLA Muktikanta Mandal.
BJD’s Manjulata Mandal has been fielded against Abhimanyu Sethi of BJP and Madhumita Sethi of Congress.
6) Jajpur- Sarmistha Sethy
She too a debutante in electoral politics as she recently resigned from the Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) and joined BJD.
This former OAS officer is in the fray against BJP’s Amiya Mallick and Manas Jena of Congress.
7) Jagatsinghpur- Dr Rajashree Mallick
Apart from being an experienced physician by profession, she is the sitting BJD MLA of Tirtol Assembly segment under Jagatsinghpur parliamentary constituency. Recently, she was in news for having infused a new lease of life to a co-passenger of Air India between Bhubaneswar and New Delhi airports.
The physician-turned-politician has this time been chosen by her party not as an MLA candidate, but an MP candidate of her native parliamentary seat. She has been pitted against Congress candidate Pratima Mallick who has also made her debut in the electoral foray.
Till the filing of this story, BJP had not formally announced its MP candidate for Jagatsinghpur.