Bhubaneswar: Scions of erstwhile princely states in Odisha have made their place in the state’s politics and 14 of them are in the election fray for the simultaneous assembly and parliamentary polls to be held next month.
Ruling BJD and BJP have fielded 11 and 3 candidates respectively from royal families in parliamentary and assembly seats.
Of the 11 royal family members in the poll fight on BJD tickets, three will try their luck in parliamentary seats and the rest eight in assembly seats.
Scions of erstwhile princely states will fight in one parliamentary and two assembly seats on BJP tickets.
Main opposition Congress has on the other hand denied party ticket to Dhenkanal royal family member and seven-time MP and former minister Kamakhya Prasad Singh Deo this time.
The royal family members who have been given BJD tickets are Kalikesh Narayan Singhdeo (Bolangir parliamentary), Hemendra Singh (Kandhamal parliamentary) and Arka Keshari Deo (Kalahandi parliamentary).
The others are A U Singhdeo (Bolangir assembly), Pushpendra Singhdeo (Dharmagarh assembly), Usha Devi (Chikiti assembly), V Sugnana Kumari Deo (Kabisurya Nagar assembly), Pravin Bhanjadeo (Morada assembly), Pratap K Deb (Aul assembly), Prakurti Devi Singhdeo (Patnagarh assembly) and Nandini Devi (Sanakhemundi assembly).
Party supremo Naveen Patnaik has, however, dropped sitting MLA Siddharth Sekhar Singh, a scion of Khandapada royal family.
Compared to the allocation of tickets to the 11 royal family members, BJD has chosen only 16 women – 14 for assembly seats and two for parliamentary seats.
For BJP those who will be in the reckoning this time are state party president and a four-time MLA K V Singhdeo. A member of Patnagarh royal family, he has been fielded by the party in Patnagarh assembly seat, while his wife Sangeeta Singhdeo, an ex-MP will fight for Bolangir parliamentary seat.
The party has also fielded Bamara royal family member Nithesh Gangdev from Deogarh assembly seat.
A U Singh Deo, popularly known as ‘Au’ in political circles, is seeking re-election from Balangir assembly segment as the BJD nominee. He is pitted against Congress heavy weight and former law minister Narashingha Mishra.
Au’s son Kalikesh is pitted against his sister-in-law Sangeeta, wife of state BJP chief K V Singhdeo.
K V Singhdeo, who is A U Singh Deo’s elder brother late Raj Singh Deo’s son, is seeking election for the fifth consecutive term from Patnagarh. He will fight his brother Sri Vardhan Singhdeo’s wife Prakurti Devi Singhdeo.
BJD has fielded Arka Kesharo Deo, a member of Kalahandi royal family and son of Bikram Keshari Deo, in its bid to defeat Congress sitting MP Bhakta Charan Das.
At Kabisurya Nagar and Chikiti assembly seats, BJD has renominated V Sugnana Kumari Deo, who belongs to the erstwhile ruling family of Khallikote, already had a long stint in politics and is seeking re-election and Usha Devi, a member of Chikiti royal family respectively.
The history of Odisha politics reveals that royal family members have all along been in the state assembly. Royal families of Balangir and Kalahandi wielded immense political clout and its members led Odisha’s first regional outfit Ganatantra Parishad.
Former ruler of Patna (now Balangir) Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo, who was chief minister from 1967-71 and former maharaja of Kalahandi Pratap Keshari Deo were the driving force behind Ganatantra Parishad which was regarded as the biggest rival of Congress in the 1950s and early 1960s.
The present assembly has seven royal family members. They are A U Singhdeo (Bolangir), K V Singhdeo (Patnagarh), Pushpendra Singhdeo (Dharmagarh), Pratap Kesharo Deb (Aul), Pravin Bhanjadeo (Morada), Usha Devi (Chikiti) and V Sugnana Kumari Devi (Kabisurya Nagar).
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