Sons rise in Orissa politics

May 23rd, 2009 - 9:54 am ICT by IANS  

By Prashant K. Nanda
Bhubaneswar, May 23 (IANS) Call it catching up with family politics prevalent in the national scene or just lack of choice, several politicians, mainly from the triumphant Biju Janata Dal (BJD), fielded their sons during the just-concluded elections and came out with flying colours.

Of the five scions of politicians, four are from the BJD and one from the Congress. Priti Ranjan Ghedei, son of finance minister Prafulla Ghedei, Chandra Sarathi Behera, son of former excise minister Kalindi Behera, and Bobby Das, son of deceased leader Ashok Das, have emerged victorious defeating strong rivals in their assembly elections. All of them were fighting on the BJD ticket.

In the Lok Sabha elections too two sons - Kalikesh Narayan Singhdeo (BJD) and Pradeep Majhi (Congress) - have won the race. While Kalikesh is the son of minister A.U. Singhdeo, Majhi is the son of former Rajya Sabha member Bhagban Majhi.

Except Kalikesh, the other four are first timers.

“Though the trend is not new in national politics, it’s unfortunate to see this in Orissa. There are scores of aspirants from each political outfit working in the grassroots but old and established politicians are pushing their sons to the limelight,” leading political analyst Surya Narayan Mishra told IANS.

“This is a wrong message to the people in general and party workers in particular. I think such people should be taught a lesson but voters in Orissa are not aware of many things. Poverty and ignorance of voters are only giving success to such type of family politics.

“People are only looking at the party symbol, not the efficiency of the candidate. And this is one of the reasons why the BJD has managed a thumping majority. A week opposition from the Congress is only adding fuel to the fire,” argued Mishra.

However, politicians disagreed.

“Forget about my family relations. I have been active in politics for over seven years and was working in the grassroots as a party worker. My getting a ticket and winning elections should not be linked to the success of my father,” Priti Ranjan told IANS.

“It’s good that a number of youngsters have been elected by people to represent them in the assembly. We have fresh ideas and understand the problems, sufferings and demands of our people.

“My constituency Korei does not have proper drinking water facilities, electricity is a dream for half of the population and village health has been neglected for over 30 years. My primary aim is to improve these facilities along with bettering road transport in my area,” said the engineer-turned- politician.

He vowed to bring visible change in the state along with his fellow young politicians.

“Our Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given ticket to these youngsters after weighing their winnability capacity. He finds a great potential in Kalikesh Singhdeo especially,” said another senior BJD leader.

Ask him why, the leader chuckled: “Could be their command over spoken English. Both speak good English. A son (Naveen - son of late Biju Patnaik) promoting sons. See, as a young political party we are promoting youngsters to be active in politics.”

Kalikesh, who became Orissa’s youngest legislator in 2004, was asked to take on three-time BJP MP Sangita Singhdeo in Bolangir this time. The young man who left a plum management job with energy major Enron proved the chief minister right by defeating Congress stalwart Narasingha Mishra. Sangita stood third.

Pradeep Kumar Majhi, one of the secretaries of the Indian Youth Congress, snatched a win by defeating nearest BJD rival Dambaru Majhi by a margin of over 30,000 votes from the Nabrangpur Lok Sabha constituency.

Though repeated attempts to reach Majhi failed, the 33-year-old had said before the polls that he was confident of a win. “I am young and my leadership will bring a fresh lease of life to western Orissa politics,” he had said.

(Prashant K. Nanda can be contacted at

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