BJD’s New LS Poll Formula: One-Third Tickets For Turncoats

Bhubaneswar: Notwithstanding the general perception that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is grappling with a problem of plenty ahead of twin elections in Odisha, one-third of its MP candidates are turncoats from other parties.

Three among them, Manmath Routray, Bhurgu Baxipatra and Parineeta Mishra got LS tickets within hours of joining the ruling party. Parineeta was named BJD candidate from Bargarh Lok Sabha seat, 2 hours after being inducting into the fold along with her husband Susant Mishra, who was a BJP ticket aspirant from Bhatli assembly seat. Similarly, Manmath, son of Congress MLA Suresh Routray, bagged the ticket for Bhubaneswar, within couple of hours of joining the regional outfit. Bhrugu got BJD nomination for Berhampur, 5 hours after snapping 23-year-old ties with BJP.

Both Manmath, a former pilot, and Parineeta are poll debutants.

The third list announced on Tuesday included one sitting MP Majulata Mandal (Bhadrak) and four turncoats. Besides Bhrugu and Parineeta, three-time MLA and former minister Surendra Singh Bhoi was rewarded with Balangir LS seat, five days after he joined BJD, cutting his 38-year-old ties with Congress.

The party picked former MLA Dhanurjay Siddu, who had earlier contested assembly polls both on Congress and BJP tickets, for Keonjhar LS seat over sitting MP Chandrani Murmu. Siddu joined the BJD in December 2021.

Similarly, Bhrugu, who came second in the 2019 polls from Berhampur by garnering 3.48 lakh votes (35.25% vote share), was chosen over sitting MP Chandrasekhar Sahu.

Though speculation was rife that the regional party may field senior leader Prasanna Acharya, who was discharged from hospital on Tuesday after suffering critical injuries in a car crash last month, from Bargarh, Parineeta won the approval as a contestant.

The first list of 9 MP candidates announced on March 27 had one new entrant, former Congress MLA Anshuman Mohanty, who joined the party on March 16. He has been fielded from Kendrapada Lok Sabha seat, replacing sitting MP Anubhav Mohanty. Though the list also included former Congress MP Pradeep Majhi for tribal-dominated Nabarangpur parliamentary constituency, he had joined the BJD in 2021.

Except Kaushalya Hikaka, the other eight candidates – Pranab Prakash Das (Sambalpur), Sudam Marandi (Mayurbhanj), Dilip Tirkey (Sundargarh), Pradeep Kumar Majhi (Nabarangpur), Anshuman Mohanty (Kendrapada), Lambodhar Nial (Kalahandi) and Manmath Routray (Bhubaneswar) – did not contest LS elections in 2019. Kausalya lost the 2019 elections to Congress’ Saptagiri Ulaka by a slender margin of 3,613 votes, but has been renominated from the seat again.

The second list included three sitting MPs – Rajashree Mallick (Jagatsinghpur), Achyuta Samanta (Kandhamal) and Sarmistha Sethi (Jajpur), and debutants, Santrupt Mishra (Cuttack) and Avinash Samal (Dhenkanal), and Arup Patnaik (Puri), who lost to  BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi in the prestigious Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency in 2019 polls. A former HR head of Aditya Birla Group, Santrupt joined the BJD and was appointed party’s national spokesperson in February. Avinash, a doctor by profession, is the nephew of Dhenkanal MLA Sudhir Samal.

The party, which had started the trend of fielding women candidates in one-third of Lok Sabha seats in 2019, has so far given tickets to 6 women. It is yet to announce candidate for Balasore LS seat, for which it might go for a woman nominee to fill up the one-third quota for the fairer sex. In 2009, Rabindra Jena unsuccessfully fought on BJD ticket from Balasore. He is unlikely to be renominated this time as his wife Subhashree Jena has been made the party candidate for Basta assembly segment, following the one-family-one-ticket policy of the BJD.

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