Bhubaneswar, Jan 25 (PTI) Union minister and Rajya Sabha MP Dharmendra Pradhan, has expressed desire of contesting elections from Odisha in 2024.
Assembly elections are due in the coastal state next year, along with the Lok Sabha polls.
“ I have already requested the party (BJP) …I will contest this time,” Pradhan said at an event organised by The New Indian Express here.
However, he did not make it clear whether he will contest assembly or Lok Sabha polls.
“I am a strong believer of democracy, I believe in political homework and political hard work, not just management. To continue my connect with the common masses, I think the best way is to contest polls, ” Pradhan told PTI on Tuesday.
Pradhan was elected to the Odisha Assembly in 2000 and to the Lok Sabha from Deogarh Parliamentary seat in 2004, when the BJP was in alliance with Biju Janata Dal.
However, Pradhan lost the Assembly elections in 2009 after the BJP-BJD alliance broke. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2012 and for a second term in 2018.
“Today BJP is the principal opposition party in Odisha… In 2014, we were a distant third. Till 2014, my party was also not an all-Odisha party. Due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personality, we could create an impact but couldn’t convert that into votes. But, in 2019 we translated that into votes and emerged as a major political party.
“We became the second-largest political party in the 2017 panchayat elections and also doubled our vote share in 2019, winning eight Parliamentary seats. The figure was just one in 2014,” the Union minister said.
The number of Assembly seats for the BJP also increased from 10 in 2014 to 23 in 2019, Pradhan said. Odisha has a 146-member House.
“Though Dharmendra Pradhan is the sole face of BJP in Odisha as he became Union Minister in 2014, he was not projected as the party’s face in 2019. That was one reason why the saffron party didn’t perform so well in 2019,” political analyst Rabi Das told PTI.
In the Lok Sabha polls, the party projected PM Modi as its face and the BJP was successful in increasing the tally from one to eight, the political analyst said.
“It is difficult to fight against a regional party, which has been in power for the last 23 years. People here want to see an alternative face, which the BJP is yet to provide “If Dharmendra Pradhan contests election, people can identify him as a face of BJP and there is a chance the opposition can sail through, riding on Modi’s popularity,” Das said.
Besides, Pradhan has not lost his touch with the voters of the state and has been instrumental in bringing pro-people policies from the Centre, such as opening of Medical colleges in the tribal interiors, improving railway connectivity in the tribal belt, and opening of Kendriya Vidyalayas, he said.
“Pradhan has always been fighting for the cause of the state, pushing hard with the ministers concerned,” the political analyst said. PTI SUF MM MM