Subash Chauhan Challenges Dharmendra To Take On Naveen In Bijepur

Bhubaneswar: Senior BJP leader Subash Chauhan has declined the post of vice-president of the party’s Odisha unit and also conveyed his decision not to contest elections this year. He communicated the same to BJP state president Basanta Panda.

The senior leader alleged that he was scorned at and asked to leave the party for suggesting Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s name for the Bijepur Assembly seat. “Since the Chief Minister is contesting from the seat, only a strong leader like Dharmendra could have given him a good fight,” he said.

The disrespectful treatment prompted him to decline the vice-president’s post, said the Bajrang Dal’s former national convener, who is supposedly not on the best of terms with the Union minister.

Amid growing resentment over ticket distribution for the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Odisha, the Odisha BJP on Saturday appointed Chauhan, Kandhamal MP Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh, a recent entrant to the party, and state spokesperson Pitambar Acharya as vice-presidents.

Chauhan has been upset with the BJP for ignoring him and nominating Suresh Pujari for the Bargarh Lok Sabha seat, from where he had lost the last election to the BJD’s Prabhas Singh by just 11,178 votes. Even his supporters had opposed the decision and raised slogans against Padampur MLA Pradip Purohit and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan for sidelining Chauhan. Speculation was rife that he would be fielded from Bijepur to take on the BJD president.

Expressing dismay over being denied the ticket for the Bargarh Assembly seat, the senior BJP leader said that despite having lost the last election, he had been continuously nurturing the constituency and working for the betterment of people for the last five years. “People were not happy when the party picked Pujari, but they have been silenced through threats,” he alleged.

Chauhan said he will continue in the party but not fight elections this time.

By shifting Pujari, who was nourishing the Sambalpur LS constituency from where he unsuccessfully fought in 2014, party insiders feel the BJP has weakened itself in both seats. Some leaders believe a powerful section is behind this move with an intention to kill two birds with one stone: Deprive Chauhan from contesting and make it difficult for Pujari, a former BJP state president and national executive member, from winning.

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