Nitesh Gangadeb, MP, Sambalpur
The scion of the royal Deogarh family, Nitesh Gangadeb proved to be a giant slayer in 2019 polls. The BJP fielded him from Sambalpur and he wrested the Parliamentary constituency from the incumbent Biju Janata Dal (BJD). The BJD had triumphed in the 2014 polls with Nagendra Pradhan as the contestant. This time, the BJD announced the former works secretary Nalini Kanta Pradhan as its candidate.
Pradhan, an avowed loyalist of the BJD led government and putatively close to the chief minister and in the latter’s good books, already had the upper edge in the political slugfest. Observers had billed as an unequal battle because the rival BJP had fielded Gangadeb, an outsider instead of the local heavyweight Suresh Pujari. However, the outcomes stunned all. Pradhan despite his glittering service record and the blessings of his supremo Naveen Patnaik, was let down by his tainted credentials and role in graft. It was during Pradhan’s tenure that a noted flyover in Bhubaneswar under construction collapsed, provoking questions on the works department’s transparency in award of tenders to a sullied contractor allegedly in lieu of pecuniary gains. Despite the dubious record, the contractor kept on bagging plum deals.
The baggage of the past worked in Gangadeb’s favour. Gangadeb had previously emerged victorious in 2004 on a Congress ticket and 2014 when he was the BJP’s choice for the Deogarh assembly constituency. Gangadeb feels a whole lot of developmental works were spearheaded during his last tenure as the MLA. “Roads and bridges were built. A new collectorate was set up. My one point agenda is the development and upgradation of Hirakud dam in Sambalpur”.
After his stupendous victory from the Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat, Gangadeb said, he will sit with all the MLAs in the region to iron out the pending issues. The demand for a separate bench of the Orissa High Court in Sambalpur is still raging and we will ensure that it is fulfilled, said he.