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Royal fights in Odisha in 2024 elections

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BHUBANESWAR: Even as the 2024 general elections are inching closer, every political party, group and influential families are on their toes to grab power. Everybody’s main motto is to achieve victory at any cost. While some are using muscle power, some others are using their financial clout and every permutation and combination to get a ticket from the major political parties.

In this mad race, the royal families are not far behind. Among the royal families in the fray for the 2024 general and assembly elections, the Patnagarh royal family of Balangir district is the most prominent. Every member of the family is in active politics and involved with the two major political parties Odisha – the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party.

KB Singhdeo and his wife Sangita Singhdeo of the family are members of the BJP. While KB Singhdeo has got the BJP ticket for the Patnagarh assembly constituency, Sangita Singhdeo is the party’s candidate for the Balangir Lok Sabha constituency. KB Singhdeo’s uncle AU Singhdeo was an influential minister in the BJD government. His son Kalikesh Singh Deo is a former Balangir Lok Sabha MP and is now contesting for the Balangir assembly seat on a BJD ticket.

In the neighbouring Kalahandi district, another royal Malabika Keshari Singhdeo is contesting as a BJP candidate from the Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat. Earlier, her husband had won the seat as a BJD candidate. But now both are members of the BJP. Puspendra Singhdeo of the same district was elected as MLA of Dharamgarh assembly seat twice on a BJD ticket and had the privilege of becoming a minister in the  Naveen Patnaik government.

Pratap Keshari Singhdeo, the scion of the Aul royal family, has been a four-time MLA and also a Rajya Sabha member. This time, he is contesting as a BJD candidate from the Aul assembly constituency. Usha Devi, who repeatedly represented the Chikiti assembly seat, is a powerful BJD leader of Ganjam district. She is not contesting this election due to age related factors and has allowed her son Srirup Deb to contest from the constituency on a BJD ticket.

The BJD has fielded Arundhati Devi from Deogarh assembly seat. Arundhati Devi and her husband Nitish Kumar Gangadeb are from the erstwhile ruling family of Deogarh. Gangadeb won Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket in 2019.In Dhenkanal, Congress stalwart and former MP KP Singhdeo’s nephew’s wife would contest from the Dhenkanal assembly constituency on a Congress ticket.

The BJD has fielded Gitanjali Devi from Sankhemundi assembly constituency, which was also represented by her mother Nandini Devi. In Angul, the family of Rajanikant Singhdeo is active in politics and this time the BJD has given the ticket to Rajanikant’s wife Sanjukta to contest the elections.

Similarly, Barsha Singh Bariha is contesting from Padampur assembly constituency in Bargarh district, which was earlier represented by her father Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha. Earlier also many royal family members have made a mark in state politics.

Prominent among them are Krushnachanda Gajapati Narayan Deo of Mayurbhanj, Rajendra Narayan Singhdeo of Balangir and Pratap Keshari Deo of Kalahandi.

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