BJD Hopeful Of Winning Sixth Bypoll In A Row In Odisha With Dhamnagar
Bhubaneswar: Amid face-off and show of strength in the past few months with an eye on the 2024 elections, BJD, BJP and Congress in Odisha now have an immediate task in hand to prove their mettle in electoral politics with the Election Commission of India on Monday announcing by-election to Dhamnagar Assembly constituency on November 3.
The bypoll was necessitated following the demise of incumbent BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi, who died of kidney-related problems at AIIMS-Bhubaneswar on September 19.
While BJP is hopeful of retaining the constituency, BJD claims that it will be a one-sided battle with the ruling party wresting the seat from the saffron brigade. “The BJD has strong electoral machinery, comprising youth, students and women. People have faith in the leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and want to be part of the transformation process in the state,” said party spokesperson Lenin Mohanty.
He further said that strong leadership and organisational apparatus win elections. “Our win in Balasore Sadar constituency proved that a party cannot win a bypoll by riding on the sympathy wave alone,” he said.
In 2020, the ruling BJD wrested the Balasore assembly seat from the BJP and retained Tirtol in the bypolls. BJD candidate Swarup Kumar Das defeated his nearest BJP nominee Manas Kumar Dutta, son of Madan Mohan Dutt whose demise necessitated the bypoll, by a margin of 13,351 votes. In Tirtol, Bijaya Shankar Das of the BJD garnered a total of 88,310 votes defeating his nearest rival, BJP’s Rajkishore Behera, by a margin of 41,703 votes.
It is pertinent to mention here that the ruling BJD has won all five by-elections held in the state since 2019 twin polls. This year, the party registered a landslide victory in the Brajrajnagar assembly by-poll with its candidate Alaka Mohanty winning by a margin of 66,122 votes, pushing the opposition BJP to the third position for the first time since 2019; Congress finished second. BJD candidate Rudra Pratap Maharathy won the Pipili by-election with a margin of 20,916 votes against his nearest rival Ashrit Pattnaik of the BJP in 2021. In 2019, BJD created electoral history as its candidate Rita Sahu won the Bijepur by-election by a record margin of 97,990 votes against BJP’s Sanat Gartia.
“Our party workers have already started working in Dhamnagar. As the BJP has become unpopular in the area, it won’t be difficult to defeat it,” BJD MLA Byamakesh Ray said.
Leader of Opposition Jaya Narayan Mishra said the saffron party was fully prepared to contest the election. “Bishnu babu was popular in Dhamnagar for his welfare activities. His goodwill will ensure BJP’s victory in the seat again,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “We would treat this as a practice match ahead of the final match (in 2024),” he noted.
State president, BJP OBC Morcha, Surath Biswal told the media that the party has embarked on a booth strengthening programme and has a strong organisational set-up in the constituency built over the years by Sethi and Manmohan Samal.
In 2019, Sethi won the election by a margin of 4625 votes. While he polled 80,111 votes, Rajendra K Das of BJD got 75,486.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Sarat Pattnayak claimed the grand old party will win the by-election as people are aware of the “mock fight” between the BJP and the BJD. “Now we are in a strong position to take on the ruling BJD as our party is being rejuvenated. Our poll prospects have brightened,” he added.