Naveen Vacates Bijepur Seat; Know Why

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Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday vacated the Bijepur assembly seat and retained his stronghold Hinjili.

On Thursday, Naveen’s announcement of a special package worth an estimated Rs 1330 crore for Bijepur, focusing on housing, irrigation, healthcare, connectivity, infrastructure and water supply, raised eyebrows with Opposition BJP and Congress crying foul.

BJD sources said the Chief Minister did not want to disappoint the people of Bijepur and gave them largesse ahead of quitting the seat. He would subsequently announce another package on livelihood and certain other sectors for the constituency.

In a letter to secretary, Odisha Legislative Assembly, Naveen expressed gratitude and thanked the people of Bijepur for their love and support, sources said.

Naveen’s decision to contest from two assembly seats in the recently-concluded elections had baffled many, although he tried to justify it on the ground that people of western Odisha demanded that he fought the polls from the region.

Political analysts felt Naveen chose Bijepur in Bargarh district as his second seat to improve the regional party’s prospects in western Odisha, where rival BJP has in recent decades built a solid support base.

If party sources are to be believed, there was more to it. Naveen and Co. were mulling over the possibility of inducting his nephew Arun Patnaik into politics and hence wanted to keep a seat from where he could possibly enter the Vidhan Sabha.

However, after the stupendous success in the assembly elections, which saw BJD winning 112 of the 146 seats, a section within the party is believed to have convinced the leadership not to make any move that could upset the high the BJD is experiencing now or make Naveen appear to be a dynasty.

This ostensibly made Naaven choose Hinjili, considered a much safer seat for the BJD chief, over Bijepur, party sources said.

Subsequently, Naveen quelled speculation over Arun’s possible political entry and said he had no succession plan people and people would choose the next leader. And then came the special package for Bijepur, which has attracted lot of political and administrative
attention after its then Congress MLA Subal Sahu died in 2017.
With Naveen quitting Bijepur, it would be the second time in two years that the constituency will witness a bypoll. In early 2018, Subal’s widow Rita Sahu contested on a BJD ticket and won comfortably, but the run-up to elections had seen much political drama with the BJD and the BJP engaging in a direct fight.
Naveen’s plan to leave the Bijepur seat has already been sensed by the BJP, which has accused the CM of misleading the people of Bijepur for the second time. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik said, “The CM has announced the package for Bijepur keeping an eye on the byelection. It’s not right for the CM to unveil a big package only for his constituency a day after being sworn in.”

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