Amid celebrations in the BJP camp for the stupendous victory in the Lok Sabha elections, two of its high-profile leaders lost in Odisha.
Former MP Baijayant Panda, who was contesting from the Kendrapara Parliament constituency, lost to actor-turned Rajya Sabha MP Anubhav Mohanty by a margin of 1,52,584 votes.
The four-time MP had represented Kendrapara twice on Biju Janata Dal ticket and months after resigning from the BJD, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) just ahead of elections.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra lost to sitting BJD MP Pinaki Mishra by a margin of 11,714 votes in a close fight from the Puri Lok Sabha seat.
Mr Mishra had an easy win in Puri in 2009 and 2014. In 1996, he won the seat on a Congress ticket
Out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats, the BJD won 12, while the BJP emerged victorious in eight and the Congress opened its account by winning the Koraput Lok Sabha seat.
Manoj Sinha, a dhoti-clad civil engineer from the prestigious Banaras Hindu University and three-time MP, Thursday seemed to have fallen victim to caste equation as he lost from the Ghazipur constituency in eastern Uttar Pradesh by a margin of 1.19 lakh votes. Sinha, who was Telecom Minister in the Narendra Modi government, lost to Afzal Ansari, the brother of don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari. Ansari was the joint candidate of the ‘mahagathbandhan’ (BSP-SP-RLD alliance). Sinha got 4.46 lakh votes as compared to BSP’s Ansari who received 5.66 lakh votes. Sinha had won this seat in 2014 by a margin of 32,452 votes. Fondly called “Vikas Purush” by his followers, this reserved and introvert member of the Modi government, took charge of the high-profile telecom portfolio from Ravi Shankar Prasad in 2016 at a time when the industry was rolling up its sleeves for a mega spectrum sale. Sinha spent the next almost three years steering the hyper-competitive industry that was hemorrhaging on financial stress.
During his stint as Telecom Minister, Sinha made focused interventions to stabilise the industry including a crackdown on call drops (service quality issues are a pain point for consumers), measures for ease of doing business, and finalising a revival package for the debt-ridden telecom sector. Sinha, a three-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament (MP), was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1996, a feat that he repeated in 1999. In 2014, Sinha was elected to the Lok Sabha for the third time. A ‘Bhumihar’ by birth, Sinha was, at one point, seen as the frontrunner for UP Chief Minister’s post following BJP’s stunning victory in the 2017 assembly polls. Sinha began his political career after being elected the president of Banaras Hindu University Students Union in 1982.