Suresh Pujari, one of BJP’s most adored leaders in western Odisha showed his winnability in a critical electoral contest by outwitting BJD’s heavyweight and former Parliamentarian Prasanna Acharya.
Known for his organisational acumen, Pujari exemplified he can be banked for success at keenly fought electoral battles too. Bargarh is not exactly Pujari’s pocket borough, he owes his political moorings to Sambalpur, arguably the most strategic region of western Odisha, both politically and geographically. But Bargarh shares the same cultural idiom with Sambalpur as some other areas in Odisha’s western hinterland. So when, the BJP high command handpicked Pujari to contest from the Bargarh seat, the latter did not quiver or quibble. Instead, he vindicated BJP’s choice, vanquishing the redoubtable Acharya by 63,939 votes. Don’t forget the BJD had won the Bargarh Parliamentary seat at 2014 polls and with this time, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik choosing to contest additionally from Bijepur apart from his bastion Hinjili, the Opposition was bound to be rankled. But Pujari being composed and collected discounted the Naveen factor too.
Pujari is not flustered by the result at Bargarh. “Despite all the odds stacked in favour of the ruling BJD and their machinations, my party selected me and people accepted me as their candidate. I’ll remain the people’s sevak forever”, he says.
Recalling his salad days, Pujari said “Politics was never my first career choice but destiny actually decreed me to be a politician after I got involved in a massive students’ movement in the early 1980s. Politics imbued me with the notions of equality and development. I have been inspired by the legendary Vajpayee ji. Today, we can unambiguously see his vision reaching fruition as Modi ji leads the nation with great speed and accuracy. Modi ji’s performance was the reason why the nation voted overwhelmingly in his favour and took NDA’s strength to 350 in this election. I’m lucky to be working under him and BJP president Amit Shah ji for the betterment of the country”, he exuded.
Paradoxically, despite Pujari winning from Bargarh, the incumbent BJD has won at all seven assembly segments in the jurisdiction. Pujari’s massive following with the masses and split voting playing its part showed up contrasting results. Pujari claims the mass of people turning up at his rallies was phenomenal. “The milling crowd got bigger and better and I had to carry all my party cadres raising shrill slogans of Phir ek baar Modi Sarkar”.
From intellectuals to youths to women, all backed Pujari’s candidature. “I bow to their support”, the elected MP said modestly. Pujari is known to be an outspoken, garrulous leader. His instinctive traits helped him to mingle with the riff-raff without much ado. Unlike other politicians who have a flair for trumpeting their achievements, Pujari remains the low-key leader who delivers. He’s obsessed with three Ds- development, development and development.