Several political families in Odisha are in the fray in the 2019 polls, with members of some either seeking re-election or crossing swords with their kin.
In some cases, members of such families have been fielded by parties from different constituencies, including one in which the Congress has given a father the responsibility to retain an assembly seat and son to wrest a Lok Sabha seat from rival Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
The assembly election will be held in Odisha along with the Lok Sabha polls in four phases – on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.
Kinship is evident in the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat, where sitting BJD MP Kalikesh Narayan Singhdeo is pitted against his sister-in-law and former MP Sangeeta Singhdeo of the BJP.
He is the son of former state minister A U Singhdeo and is seeking a re-election from the seat.
For Kalikesh Narayan Singhdeo, who won the Lok Sabha constituency in 2009 and 2014, the battle will be an interesting one.
His father, now a BJD vice-president, has won all the state elections from the Bolangir assembly seat since 1990, but lost to Congress’s Narasingha Mishra in 2014.
Kalikesh Narayan Singhdeo has said he is hopeful of another victory because of the development work carried out by the BJD government in the past five years in the state.
Sangeeta Singhdeo’s husband K V Singhdeo, the BJP legislature party leader and a former state minister, is fighting to retain the Patnagarh assembly segment as a saffron party nominee.
In Sundergarh district, veteran Congress leader and former chief minister Hemanand Biswal’s two daughters are in the fray as nominees of opposition parties in Sundergarh district.
While Sunita Biswal is a BJD candidate for the Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat, her younger sister Amita has been fielded by the Congress from the Sundergarh assembly segment.
Amita claims the candidature of her elder sister as a BJD nominee will not affect the poll prospects of the Congress which has a strong base in Sundergarh.
Family ties seem important in south Odisha, too, as the baton of BJD MP Jhina Hikaka has been transferred to wife Kausalya.
She has been fielded by the ruling party from the Koraput (ST)Lok Sabha seat, currently held by Hikaka in the outgoing House.
Kalyani Devi, the great granddaughter of erstwhile king of Paralakhemundi Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati, will contest the election on a BJD ticket from the Paralakhemundi assembly seat.
She is the daughter of Gopinath Gajapati, who was a two-time Congress MP from Berhampur.
Congress stalwart and Leader of Opposition in the Odisha assembly Narasingha Mishra has been given a ticket from the Bolangir assembly constituency, while his son Samarendra Mishra will fight the general election from the Bolangir parliamentary seat.
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das has been fielded by the party from the Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency, and his son Sagar Charan Das is the party’s candidate from the Bhawanipatna assembly seat.
Similarly, George Tirkey is the candidate of the grand old party from the Sundergarh (ST) Lok Sabha constituency, his son Rohit Joseph has been fielded from Birmitrapur (ST) assembly seat, now represented by his father.
Firebrand Congress leader Suresh Routray is a nominee from Jatni assembly segment, while his son-in-law Prasad Harichandan, former Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee chief, will vie for victory from the Satyabadi assembly constituency.
Sisir Gomang, son of former Congress chief minister Giridhar Gamang, who is now in the BJP, has been fielded by the saffron party from Gunupur (ST) seat.
Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik, who made his foray into the poll scene as the heir of legendary leader Biju Patnaik, will fight the assembly elections from Bijepur and home turf Hinjli.
Naveen fought his maiden poll battle in 1997 in a by-election from the Aska Lok Sabha constituency and won the seat as a nominee of the erstwhile Janata Dal.The bypoll was necessitated following his father’s death.
Thereafter, the BJD was formed and Patnaik scored victory in the Lok Sabha elections in 1998 and 1999 from the seat. The BJD supremo is now in the race for a fifth consecutive term as CM.