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Dharmendra Pradhan returns to electoral fray after 15 years, visits Jagannath temple

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who has returned to the electoral fray after a gap of 15 years, visited Jagannath temple in Puri and sought blessings from the sibling deities. He was accompanied by BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra.

Pradhan has been named as the BJP candidate from Sambalpur, while Patra has been re-nominated from Puri.

Taking to X, Pradhan posted, “Lord Jagannath is an integral part of our social and cultural identity. His blessings have always been upon us. After becoming a candidate for the Lok Sabha from Sambalpur, the holy land of Mother Samlai, it was a great privilege for me to first take the blessings of Lord Jagannath in the temple.”

“I believe that the blessings of the Lord will give me more strength to serve the public. I will always strive to utilise my skills and abilities fully in the service of people,” he added.

Pradhan asserted that with blessings of Lord Jagannath, the BJP will form the government in Odisha and retain power at the Centre.

“The wave of change is clearly visible in Odisha,” he said.

Pradhan, who is a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, returned to contesting elections after a gap of 15 years after he was nominated from Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat, which is the epicentre of western Odisha.

He had last contested elections in 2009, when the alliance between the BJP and the BJD ended.

Pradhan was elected to the Odisha Assembly in 2000 and to the Lok Sabha from Deogarh seat in 2004. However, he lost the assembly elections in 2009.

He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar in 2012 and again in 2018 from Madhya Pradesh.

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections will be an acid test for Pradhan, with the BJP contesting the polls without an alliance with the BJD.

Similarly, Sambit Patra had also unsuccessfully contested from Puri Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 elections, losing to BJD’s Pinaki Misra by a margin of 11,000 votes.

“I had lost the 2019 polls by a slender margin. This time, BJP leaders and workers would visit every household and apprise people about PM Modi’s 25-year vision for the state,” he said.

“It’s my fortune to bow my head before the Lord on this auspicious day of Dola Purnima,” he said.

The BJP on Sunday announced its candidates for 18 of Odisha’s 21 Lok Sabha seats, dropping four sitting MPs.

Neither the BJD nor the Congress have announced their candidates so far.

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