Political Times

Would Keonjhar be BJD’s Achilles heel? Sanatan Mahakud’s clout poses grim challenge to party leadership

Would Keonjhar be BJD’s Achilles heel? Sanatan Mahakud’s clout poses grim challenge to party leadership

Sanatan Mahakud’s portrayal as the Robin Hood of the mining rich Keonjhar is amply known.  But, his considerable rise in political clout ever since his election from the Champua constituency as an MLA has the BJD rattled.

BJD heavyweight from Keonjhar Badri Narayan Patra, known for his impeccably clean image, is pitted against a formidable rival in Mahakud. Questions are already ringing within the BJD if the self effacing Patra is enough to humble Mahakud at the next elections. Or is the party top brass planning a shake-up in Keonjhar?

Flashback to 2014 polls and you realise Mahakud won it hands down against a dummy ‘Pappu Pom Pom’ alias Tatwa Prakash Satapathy. It was the subject of political grapevine if the ace comedian was made a scapegoat, but Mahakud was the clear winner. Now, Mahakud’s aim would be to consolidate the rest five seats in Keonjhar and corner BJD, riding on gains made since the last elections. Here, anti-incumbency could be exploited by the local strongman- Mahakud. He’s so popular with the people and offers a fresh political narrative against the monopolistic BJD. But, lack of political acumen and intellectual capital could be dicey for Mahakud.

BJD boss Naveen Patnaik is learnt to have deployed his men and intellect to nip it all in the bud. To snuff out Mahakud’s growing ambitions, the Keonjhar top cop is learnt to have tasked with probing Mahakud’s chain of crime and irregularities and nail him.

Of late, the local Champua police has detained one banker for trying to allegedly hand over a whopping Rs 50 lakh, in cash, to Mahakud. The man nabbed is facing interrogation and if he spills the beans, it could open up the Pandora box for Mahakud. For BJD, a successful interrogation into the money trail could unearth many ugly transactions where Mahakud is embroiled in. The BJD’s motives show the party is taking Mahakud seriously and is wary of the man’s potential to split BJD votes if not win all assembly seats in Keonjhar.

A critical test of leadership is that of Badri Patra to keep the BJD flock together and quell any dissent. It’s also a moment to save the blushes in his political career without succumbing to circumstances. It’s over to time to decide if Patra survives the swelling tide in his bastion or the party makes headroom for a change.

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