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12 members of royal families contesting Assembly, Lok Sabha elections in Odisha

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BHUBANESWAR, April 22: Twelve members of different royal families in Odisha are contesting the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections seeking votes of commoners.

Elections to the 21 Lok Sabha constituencies in Odisha and 147 Assembly segments will be held simultaneously in the state from May 13 to June 1.

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The ruling Biju Janata Dal had fielded eight members from royal families followed by BJP three and Congress one.

Ten members of the royal families are contesting Odisha Assembly elections while two are in the fray for Lok Sabha polls.

The BJD has fielded 28-year-old Sulakshana Geetanjali Devi, granddaughter of veteran leader late A N Singhdeo of Dharakote as its candidate for the Sanakhemundi assembly constituency.

A law degree-holder, Geetanjali is the fifth member of the Dharakote royal family to contest assembly election. Her grandfather A N Singhdeo was elected from the Surada constituency four times – 1967, 1971, 1977 and 1995 – as an MLA and in 1989 as the MP of Aska Lok Sabha constituency.

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Her grandmother Shanti Devi and father Kishor Chandra Singhdeo had also been elected from the seat in the 1990 and 2004 elections respectively.

Her mother Nandini Devi had won from Sanakhemundi seat in 2014. This time, Geetanjali will contest against Congress’s sitting MLA Ramesh Chandra Jena in the May 20 election.

“I have been inspired by my grandfather, mother and father to join in the politics to serve the people. I thanked the chief minister for giving me the opportunity to serve the people of the constituency,” said Geetanjali, who is the chairperson of the panchayat samiti of Dharakote.

The BJD has also fielded Chinmayananda Srirup Deb, son of Usha Devi, royal scion of Chikiti to contest from Chikiti Assembly segment.

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Srirup Deb, son of Usha Devi, Urban development minister, is the third member of the Chikiti royal family to make electoral debut from his mother’s seat Chikiti. His grandfather Sachidananda Deo was elected in the seat in 1971, while his mother Usha Devi won five times in a row since 2000.

Deb who worked in a multinational IT company for over two decades and then started his own business after quitting the job.

“I have also been working with my mother in politics since 2018”, said 48-year-old Deb. To provide service to the people and to make Chikiti a model constituency is his aim to enter politics,” he added

The BJP has re-nominated its MP Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo from the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat. She hails from the Bolangir royal family. Her husband senior BJP leader KV Singh Deo has also been fielded by the saffron party from the Patnagarh assembly segment.

Sangeeta has been elected from the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat four times in the past.

The BJD has fielded Kaliesh Narayan Singh Deo, two-time MP from Bolangir, this time to contest from the Assembly segment.

The saffron party has fielded Malavika Keshari Deo, wife of former MP Arka Keshari Deo in Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat. The royal couple joined the BJP in 2023 after quitting the BJD, after being denied ticket in 2019. Arka is the son of Bikram Keshari Deo, Kalahandi royal family scion and BJP leader, who had won the seat thrice.

The BJD has also fielded Bamanda ‘Rani’ Arundhati Devi, who is the wife of erstwhile Deogarh king and BJP’s Sambalpur MP Nitesh Ganga Dev, as its Deogarh Assembly candidate.

Pushpendra Singh Deo, another member of the royal family has been fielded by BJD in the Dharmgarh assembly seat.

The BJD has also fielded Sanjukta Singh to contest from the Angul Assembly segment. She replaced her husband and sitting MLA Rajanikant Singh who is the scion of the Angul royal family.

The regional outfit has also fielded Pratyusha Rajeswari in the Nayagarh assembly segment while Pratap Deb, a member of the Aul royal family, will fight for the Aul seat for BJD.

The Congress has fielded Susmita Singh Deo, a member of the Dhenkanal royal family for the Dhenkanal Assembly seat.

Prahallad Sinha, a political analyst said royal families still commend respect from villagers. The people still have faith that royal family members will address their problems and raise their issues in proper place.

However, Bolangir royal family member and senior BJP leader KV Singh Deo said: “I have never been considered as a member of a royal family. People have showered their love and affection on me and my wife who has been elected to Lok Sabha four times.”

Bamanda queen Arundhati Devi says: “I feel always connected to the people. Therefore, people have loved our family.”

Sinha said according to the political history of Odisha, royal families of Bolangir and Kalahandi have wielded immense political clout as former rulers of princely states and had taken leadership of the state’s first regional outfit, the Ganatantra Parishad.

Former ruler of Patna (now Bolangir) royal family member Rajendra Narayan Singh Deo, was chief minister of Odisha between 1967-71 and former Maharaja of Kalahandi Pratap Keshari Deo was the driving force behind the Ganatantra Parishad, which was regarded as the biggest rival of the Congress in the 1950s and early 1960s, said Sinha. (PTI)





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