Unfazed by the intense lobbying by aspirants to contest the ensuing Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has his own strategy of picking the right candidate and fitting them in the right slot.
Naveen has picked five Rajya Sabha members to contest the polls. While Prasanna Acharya, Achyut Samant and Ollywood actor Anubhav Mohanty will contest the Bargarh, Kandhamal and Kendrapara Lok Sabha seats respectively, Pratap Keshari Deb and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik have been made candidates for Aul and Khandapada Assembly seats respectively.
Of these five Rajya Sabha members, the tenure of Soumya Ranjan and Achyut will expire on April 3, 2024, Prasanna and Pratap on July 1, 2022, and Anubhav on April 1, 2020.
Psephologists are of the view that these three Rajya Sabha members will give BJP candidates a tough fight in the Lok Sabha seats.
While Prasanna will contest against BJP candidate Suresh Pujari, Achyut Samant will fight BJP candidate and former Utkal Bharat president Kharavela Swain and Anubhav will take on Baijayant Panda.
Of the two Rajya Sabha members picked for the two Assembly seats, Pratap will face a tough fight from Congress candidate Debendra Sharma while Soumya Ranjan will have to battle BJP candidate Siddharth Singh Mardaraj as well as the sitting BJD MLA, Anubhav Patnaik, whom he has replaced. Anubhav will try his best to upset Soumya Ranjan, whom he had defeated by a slender margin in 2014.