Bhubaneswar: The BJD on Thursday announced Minakshi Mahanta’s candidature from Champua Assembly seat in Keonjhar district.
Minakshi has replaced Ollywood actor Tatwa Prakash Satpathy, popularly known as Papu Pom Pom, who had come third in the 2014 elections, behind winning Independent candidate Sanatan Mahakud and runners-up Independent candidate Kusha Apat. While Sanatan had won the Champua seat by 69,635 votes, Papu had polled only 10,233 votes.
Minakshi is a protégé of the sitting Champua MLA Sanatan. She was the state president of Jana Samruddhi Party floated by him and later abandoned.
BJD sources said Sanatan had recently gone to Naveen Niwas to meet party chief Naveen Patnaik for a ticket for Champua. In an attempt to not upset his apple cart, as School and Mass Education Minister Badri Narayan Patra and former Champua MLA Jitu Patnaik had opposed Sanatan’s candidature, Naveen reportedly agreed to field a candidate sponsored by Sanatan.
The BJD chief instead assured Sanatan a Rajya Sabha nomination in lieu of his support for BJD candidates in Keonjhar district, the sources added.
Sanatan is a strongman in Keonjhar district and has deep pockets due to his clout over workers engaged in mines. The BJD MP candidate for Keonjhar is also a close confidant of the sitting MLA.
The party is yet to decide on candidates for Baripada and Kendrapara Assembly seats. Odisha will go to polls in four phases, beginning April 11.