There is a contest between a hockey icon and a BJP veteran for the Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat

The only LS seat in Odisha where the BJD has never won an election is Sundargarh. Sundargarh stayed in the BJP during the BJD-BJP alliance, and Jual Oram has served as its representative. The constituency only changed hands once, in 2009, when senior Congressman and former chief minister Hemananda Biswal won the seat, despite the breakup of the two parties’ coalition. Oram returned to the seat in 2014 and is still the current Member of Parliament. In the 2024 election, the BJP veteran is vying for a hat-trick of wins after being fielded from the seat once again. Since 1998, Oram has won the seat a record-tying five times.

With Oram facing off against Hockey India president and former Indian hockey team captain Dilip Tirkey, Sundargarh has become a high-profile seat. In certain regions of the state, Tirkey is a legend. This would be his second effort to take down BJP veteran Oram. However, Tirkey has a difficult battle ahead of him since Oram’s base of support has grown with each election. There was hardly a one percent (11,624) difference in votes between him and Hemananda Biswal in 2009, the year he had lost. The BJP, Congress, JMM, and CPM contested the 2009 election in four corners, and the Congress exploited the split of the votes.

However, a lot has changed since then. Because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity, the BJP is seeing a nationwide boom, and political pundits believe that this seat, which is dominated by tribal people, will stick with the saffron party.

However, BJD insiders insisted that this time, the party would take the seat. In 2014, Tirkey had fallen short of Oram by almost 18,000 votes. The governing BJD will handle the deficit in this election since it began electoral preparations about a year ago. In addition, they claimed that the governing party would benefit from Tirkey’s widespread popularity in the community and the construction of a top-notch hockey arena in the region, which is regarded as the birthplace of the sport in the nation.

Sunita Biswal, Hemananda’s daughter, was the BJD’s candidate for the seat in the 2019 election. However, Oram beat her with a record-breaking 2.23 lakh votes. Janardan Dehury, a former Bonai MLA and head of the Sundargarh district Congress organization, has been put forth by Congress as their new contender. However, experts noted that the party organization has been so severely undermined that it would be unable to leave an impression.

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