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Not afraid to take on Odisha CM Patnaik in his home turf Hinjili: BJP nominee Sisir Mishra

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Bhubaneswar, April 2 (PTI) BJP nominee Sisir Mishra, who has been pitted against Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district, is upbeat about his prospects, saying he was not afraid of taking on the BJD chief and that he will make him realise that he has "neglected his constituency for 25 years." Despite being a newcomer in electoral politics at the age of 58, Mishra also feels fortunate to contest against Patnaik in Hinjili.

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"I may be contesting elections for the first time, but I have been fighting against the local administration for the last seven years. We have given a befitting reply to the BJD government in both the panchayat and urban polls," Mishra told PTI on Tuesday after being named as the BJP candidate for Hinjili.

Mishra asserted that the BJP is steadily gaining traction in Hinjili, citing recent electoral performances.

He mentioned that the party had fiercely contested the municipal elections, securing 5,200 votes compared to the ruling party's 6,400.

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Additionally, Mishra noted the BJP's competitive showing in the zilla parishad elections as evidence of its growing popularity in the region.

Mishra, the grandson of freedom fighter Jagannath Mishra who unsuccessfully contested against Hinjili’s seven-time MLA Brundabana Nayak, said his late elder brother Sarat Mishra was a prominent BJP leader and worked towards creating a support base for the saffron party in Ganjam district.

Asked if he was nervous to face Odisha’s tallest politician who has been a chief minister for five times in a row, Mishra said, "Why should I? I am a local man, born and brought up in Hinjili. I have no fear, but elated that my questions will open Patnaik’s eyes. He (Patnaik) may for the first time realise that he has neglected his constituency for 25 years." "I am a local man and Naveen Patnaik, though elected from Hinjili for five times, is instead an outsider. Local people used to see him once or twice during elections every five years. I am with people all 365 days," he said.

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Mishra alleged that though Patnaik continued to win the assembly elections from Hinjili five times in a row since 2000, the basic needs of people were not fulfilled.

"There is a huge migration of people to other states in search of work. People leave their houses because they do not get jobs locally," he said.

Citing an instance, Mishra said, "There is a gram panchayat named Saru under Hinjili block. Over 60 per cent of houses there remained locked as people have migrated. Has Patnaik checked migration in his own assembly segment?" A commerce graduate, Mishra alleged that Patnaik has never attempted to solve the migration problem in Hinjili assembly segment.

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"We have two blocks - Seragarh and Hinjili. People from these two blocks migrate to other states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra in search of work. There is no end to the miseries of people in Hinjili and Patnaik has never bothered about the welfare of local people," he said.

Mishra alleged that Patnaik might have done good things for the people elsewhere in the state, but his contribution for the welfare of Hinjili people is negligible.

"People in Hinjili are still not getting piped water. This is sufficient to speak about the welfare of Hinjili people," he pointed out.

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Asked whether he could defeat Patnaik in his home turf, Mishra said he would seek votes on the basis of ‘Modi ki guarantee’.

"Name anyone in the village, he or she must be a beneficiary of Modi’s schemes," Mishra said, adding that he would remind people about the Modi government’s welfare schemes and failure of the state’s BJD government in implementing them.

Patnaik, who has been representing Hinjili since 2000, for the first time recorded a fall in the victory margin in 2019. He had earlier registered a continuous increase since 2000 when he contested the assembly elections for the first time.

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In the first election in 2000, Patnaik’s victory margin was over 29,826 votes. It later increased to 76,586 in 2014 assembly elections, but dropped to 60,160 five years later in 2019.

While Patnaik’s vote share in 2009 elections was over 76 per cent, it gradually declined to little more than 73 per cent in 2014 and just above 66 per cent in 2019 polls.

In the last assembly election, Patnaik contested from both Hinjili and Bijepur, a western Odisha constituency. He, however, retained Hinjili and left Bijepur.

Patnaik stands on the brink of setting a record as the longest-serving chief minister if he emerges victorious in the 2024 elections, surpassing the tenure of Pawan Kumar Chamling of Sikkim. PTI AAM BBM MNB

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