Published: 02 March 2014
In 2009, firebrand Congress leader Taraprasad Bahinipati was denied a ticket by his own party at the eleventh hour, which forced him to join the BJP, which was almost a non-entity in Jeypore, which always witnessed a bi-polar contest between the BJD and Congress. As Koraput was reserved for ST, Bahinipati had no other option but to move to Jeypore - the only unreserved constituency in the district.
The 2009 battle between the two titans - Rabi Narayan Nanda and Tara Prasad Bahinipati, was full of suspense and high drama. Although Mr. Nanda had the last laugh, he was given a run for his money by Bahinipati (Bhalu). The BJD leader polled 57,504 votes, while Bahinipati received 48,188. The victory margin was 9,316. Everyone was of the opinion that had Bahinipati contested the polls on a Congress ticket, Rabi Nanda would not become a Minister today.
A lot has changed since then. Bahinipati is back in the Congress and started his campaign with renewed efforts. Although his hard work failed to bear any fruit in the recently concluded Municipal polls, he is confident of giving a tough fight to Rabi Nanda in assembly polls. In Koraput Lok Sabha Constituency, Giridhar Gamang holds an edge over the BJD. Incumbent Jayaram Pangi's son may get a ticket there, but his winning chances are really bleak. But, will Gamang back Bahinipati in his quest to conquer Rabi Nanda's invincible fortress? The duo had a bitter fight in 2009. A lot will depend on how Bahinipati takes everyone along and show his fighting skills.
Rabi Nanda never projects himself as a firebrand leader. But, he is a matured politician. He plans and executes his moves in a meticulous way, which even stuns his critics and detractors. If we believe his close associates, he has a number of trump cards, which will be revealed in due course and will be more than enough to shatter Bahinipati's dreams. Whoever wins, the 'Battle of Jeypore' will bring a lot of excitement to the poll pundits.