This election the Bhubaneswar and Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency in Odisha is witnessing a tug of war; and has assumed fascinating dimension with parties fielding a former bureaucrats and two ex top cops in poll fray. There are past instances of retired bureaucrats and police officers- Pyarimohan Mohapatra, Radhakant Naik, Batakrushna Tripathy, Anadi Sahu, Jatish Mohanty, Amar Patnaik- testing political waters in Odisha.
While the BJP has nominated former IAS officer MRS. Aparajita Sarangi, Odisha’s ruling party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has fielded former Mumbai Police commissioner Arup Patnaik, ignoring its veteran five-time MP Prasanna Patasani, for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat, which will go to polls on 23 April,2019. Arup is a 1979-batch IPS officer of the Maharashtra cadre who joined BJD in April 2018 after his retirement in 2015. Sarangi, on the other hand, is a 1994-batch IAS officer of the Odisha cadre who took voluntary retirement while serving as a joint secretary in the Narendra Modi government and joined the saffron party last November. During her tenure in Odisha, Ms. Sarangi had earned popularity for her work as Commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and in different posts in various Departments of the State government. Prakash Mishra, the former Director General of Police of Odisha, is in the poll fray in Cuttack Lok Sabha seat on BJP ticket.
Sarangi is unlikely to find it difficult to convey her message to the people and deal with local issues because she has already served as commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and district collector of Khurda, under which this Lok Sabha seat falls.She is known in Bhubaneswar as well as the whole of Odisha for her bold decisions, such as introducing a uniform dress code for teachers, during her tenure as the municipal commissioner and Odisha school and mass education secretary. “I am my biggest opponent. I am getting a lot of support from people wherever I go, which is a very positive sign. Everyone wants parivartan (change)…,” said Sarangi.
The former Mumbai top cop, hailing from Puri district’s Delanga block, has also been campaigning vociferously. He served in many positions in Maharashtra during his 36-year-long career as a police officer. His role in the infamous Lokhandwala shootout and the handling of the 1992-93 riots in Mumbai won him accolades from several quarters. He was also the investigating officer in the 1993 Bombay serial blasts case.Arup has exuded confidence that the chief minister’s popularity coupled with people’s faith in BJD will help him sail through.“As always, my main objective will be public service. During my time as a cop, I did just that; now, I look forward to taking on the huge responsibility of representing the people of this constituency,” he said.
It however remains to be seen how Sarangi, Patnaik and Mishra sail the turbulent political waters in the upcoming polls. They have excelled in their professional careers, but politics and fighting polls are all together a different proposition.