BJP May Announce LS Candidates From Odisha Today; 5 Sitting MPs’ Fate Hanging In Balance

New Delhi: The BJP is likely to announce its candidates from Odisha for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on Sunday.

The Central Election Committee (CEC) of the party, which met for over three hours on Saturday, discussed all 21 constituencies in Odisha and if sources are to be believed, around five sitting MPs may fail to make the cut.

The BJP is likely to name Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan from Sambalpur, replacing the sitting MP, Nitesh Ganga Deb. Bureaucrat-turned-politician Aparajita Sarangi may be retained from Bhubaneswar and so also national spokesperson Sambit Patra from Puri. Patra had lost to BJD’s Pinaki Mishra in 2019 elections by a margin of 11,700 votes.

The CEC has reportedly also put stamp on Jual Oram and Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo’s candidature from Sundargarh and Balangir, respectively.

Sources, however, said that Union Minister Bisweshwar Tudu may lose his ticket as the party is keen to field Itishree Murmu, daughter of President Droupadi Murmu, from Mayurbhanj.

In Balasore, the toss is between sitting MP Pratap Sarangi and  Kharbela Swain, a three-time MP from the constituency. Swain had fought from Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat at the eleventh hour after returning to BJP in 2019, but lost to BJD’s Achyuta Samanta.

Same goes for Kalahandi LS seat, where names of both sitting MP Basanta Panda and Arka Keshari Deo, a member of the Kalahandi royal family who joined the BJP along with his wife Malvika Devi in September last year, are doing the rounds. While Arka had won the seat in 2014 on BJD ticket, Panda wrested it from the regional party by defeating Puspendra Singhdeo by a margin of 26,813 votes. The party may decided on Arka since Panda is keen to contest from an Assembly seat in the upcoming elections, the sources said.

While Suresh Pujari is the sitting MP from Bargarh, the name D Murali Krishna is also doing the rounds with the party keen to field a new face from the constituency.

Similarly, Bhrugu Buxipatra and Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahi, who recently joined the saffron brigade, are the frontrunners for Berhampur Lok Sabha seat. Bhrugu had polled 3,48,999 votes in the 2019 elections and finished second with BJD’s Chandra Sekhar Sahu winning the seat by over 94,000 votes.

These apart, the BJP is likely to field gynaecologist Purnachandra Mohapatra, who is also party vice-president, from Cuttack and sitting Dhamnagar MLA Suryabanshi Suraj from Bhadrak LS seat, the sources added.

Earlier speaking to the media, Odisha BJP president Manmohan Samal said that political situation and strategy for Odisha were discussed in the CEC meeting. “The parliamentary committee will take the decision now. It is clear that there is going to be no alliance in Odisha (with the BJD) and we will contest on all 147 seats in assembly elections and 21 seats in Lok Sabha elections.”

Reports, quoting party sources, further said that the CEC has finalised 10 names from Uttar Pradesh and these are also expected to be announced in the fourth list. Eight seats in Rajasthan and 18, including Asansol, in West Bengal were also discussed.

Bihar and Maharashtra will be discussed in the next Central Election Committee meeting.

The saffron party had announced its first list of 195 candidates on March 2, followed by 72 in second list on March 13, another nine on March 20 and 15 candidates on March 21. Of the 291 candidates announced so far, two have expressed their inability to contest polls.

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