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|October 7, 1999||
Congress suffers total eclipse in Orissa
A strong Vajpayee wave swept across Orissa routing the ruling Congress in the state even in its traditional bastions.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-Biju Janata Dal combine which bagged 16 seats in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, this time not only improved its tally by adding three more but uprooted the Congress from even its citadels like Nawarangpur and Berhampur, two seats that has never gone to a non-Congress party since the 1957 Lok Sabha elections.
The only consolation for the Congress came from Koraput (reserved) and Dhenkanal seats where its nominees escaped defeat by low margins. In Koraput Congress nominee Hema Gamang managed to win by a margin of 12,216 votes where her husband Giridhar Gamang, now Chief Minister of Orissa, had won the seat since 1972 by handsome margins.
In the Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seat, the BJD nominee Tathagat Satpathy, the sitting Parliament member, proved to be unlucky when former Union minister and Congress candidate K P Singh Deo wrested the seat from him by a slender margin of 3,434 votes. Singh Deo's victory would not have been possible but for the presence of rebel BJP candidate Rudra Narayan Pani in the fray who caused a sharp division in the non-Congress votes.
The highlight of the 1999 Lok Sabha election in Orissa is the BJP-BJD combine establishing its writ in all regions of the state including the tribal strongholds, which the Congress had always considered its pocket borough.
Notable Congress candidates who tumbled by the wayside were Pradesh Congress chief Hemananda Biswal (Deogarh), former Orissa chief minister J B Pattnaik's wife Jayanti Pattnaik (Berhampur), former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das (Kalahandi), former Union minister and present state Panchayat Raj Minister K C Lenka (Cuttack)and former Union minister Krupasindhu Bhoi (Sambalpur).
The BJP this time won all the nine seats it contested in the state with huge margins. During the last election it won seven seats conceding two to the Congress which they wrested this time.
On the other hand, the BJD wrested the Jajpur- reserved and Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seats from the Congress but lost the Dhenkanal seat.
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