The BJP’s familiar face on TV channels, Sambit Patra, has been one of the most visible candidates in Odisha, thanks to his constant social media updates from the campaign trail. From hugging voters to clicking selfies with them to singing Telugu and Hindi versions of the same song, Patra has been going all out to woo voters away from sitting BJD MP Pinaki Mishra.
There was strong speculation ahead of the election that Puri would be PM Narendra Modi’s second seat after Varanasi. However, the BJP sprang a surprise by fielding Patra, who has been saying that Modi sent him to the constituency as his “representative”. The Indian Express reported that Patra has been chanting mantras and taking a dip in ponds while giving interviews to the media. He has also been making rounds of the temples in the area. The report, however, added that the reaction to Patra has been mixed, with one BJP worker saying that Balakot air strikes and Mission Shakti don’t have many takers in constituency which votes in the third phase on 23 April.
Misra, who won the Puri constituency with 50% of the vote share in 2014, is also a spokesperson for his party.