Makaranda Muduli, the lone Independent MLA from Rayagada Assembly seat topped the list of MLAs with lowest assets. As per his affidavits filed before the elections, the leader has total assets of only Rs 15,000.
He defeated former minister and three-time BJD MLA Lal Bihari Himirika with a margin of 4,870 votes. The 46-year-old tribal man withstood Naveen and Modi wave without taking support from any party or big man.
While he bagged 52,751 votes, BJD’s Lal Bihari Himirika secured 47,913 votes. The Congress candidate Kadraka Appalaswamy got 39,625 votes and BJP’s Basanta Kumar Ullaka 24,327 votes. Rayagada constituency comprises Rayagada and Kashipur blocks and the latter with its high voter population played a decisive role in the elections, political observers said.
In 2014 General Elections, Makaranda fought from the seat as Congress candidate. Although Makaranda was a strong candidate for the grand old party this time as well, he was denied ticket due to issues with his caste certificate.
Makaranda has a strong connect with people of Kashipur as he has been fighting for granting ST status for Jhodia community and employment of local youths in UAIL at Doraguda. He has been raising his voice for proper utilization of District Mineral Funds in Kashipur block. He had the support of Kashipur voters, who have always played a major role in determining the fate of contestants in the constituency.
An alumni of Utkal University, he had joined politics in 2000 and contested from Laxmipur constituency on BSP ticket but lost the seat. Makaranda joined Congress in 2008 and got the ticket in 2014 from the party but again lost to Himirika by a narrow margin of 7,000 votes.
Sources said Makaranda had good contact with former MP Srikant Jena which did not go down well with Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik. When he did not get the ticket, he decided to contest as Independent and subsequently, Makaranda was suspended from Congress along with two other leaders from Kashipur block.