Puri (Odisha): Two Delhi-based candidates are among those vying to enter the Lok Sabha from this seat on country`s eastern shores, famous for being the city of Lord Jagannath and a major destination for pilgrimage.
One of the richest candidates in Odisha and sitting BJD MP Pinaki Mishra, an advocate in Supreme Court, and journalist Sucharita Mohanty, the Congress candidate, both reside in the national capital but claim old ties with the Puri seat.
Puri has approximately 14,02,308 voters and more than 50 percent are males. Polling for the Puri Lok Sabha seat is scheduled for April 17.
While Mishra, son of former Assam Governor Loknath Mishra, has been elected twice from Puri, in 1996 as a Congress candidate and in 2009 as a BJD nominee, Sucharita is the daughter of veteran Congress leader Brajamohan Mohanty, who represented Puri in Lok Sabha twice, in 1980 and 1984.
This is Sucharita`s maiden foray into the electoral field and she is banking on her father`s popularity in the area.
"Puri is not only my birthplace but I also did my education here. The local people accept me as their daughter," Sucharita claimed.
Sucharita is seen as being friendly with the local media but stresses more on personal contacts. She is touring the villages here holding roadshows.
Mishra, although based in Delhi due to his professional commitments, claims that he stays in constant touch with the constituency.
"I have my roots here and I work for the development of the people of this constituency. I am with the people of Puri whether I am an MP or not," says Mishra.
However, firebrand local BJP leader and the party`s candidate for the seat, Ashok Sahu has dubbed both Mishra and Sucharita as "Delhi-wallahs" who have come here just to seek votes.
Sahu is banking on the Narendra Modi wave and is confident about winning the seat.
"As people across the country want to make Modi the Prime Minister, they will vote for the lotus (BJP) symbol here as well," Sahu said.
Interestingly, cutting across party lines, the candidates and their leaders began their poll campaigns here after paying obeisance at the temple here. From Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to BJP`s Prime Minister candidate Modi, the leaders during their rallies invoked the name of Lord Jagannath.
"Though I was born in the land of Lord Somnath, I will like to serve the people of Jagannath Dham (Puri)," Modi had said during poll rallies in Odisha.
BJP has also tried to woo voters here saying the Gujarat Chief Minister organises a Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad every year as he is a great devotee of the Lord.
Patnaik, who is aware of the place Lord Jagannath holds in the hearts of the people of Odisha, uses the word "Mahaprabhu" (the Lord) in his party`s election advertisement.
BJD candidate Mishra, Congress`s Sucharita and BJP`s Sahu, had also started their respective campaigns after offering prayers at the Jagannath temple.