Odisha Elections 2024: Anubhav, Soumya Could Queer Poll Pitch For BJD In Khandapada

Bhubaneswar: The going could get tough for Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Khandapada as two of its former legislators – Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Anubhav Patnaik- are against the party ahead of the upcoming elections.

Shortly after the BJD played the woman card and nominated Sabitri Pradhan from Khandapada Assembly seat on Thursday, Anubhav Pattnaik quit the party. He is likely to contest the polls as an Independent.

Anubhav’s possible rebellion nearly eight months after the party expelled Soumya in the wake of an alleged loan fraud case can create serious trouble for the Conch party in Khandapada.

Although the party chose Sabitri, who is chairperson of Bhapur block, because of her organisation, political observers feel it won’t be easy for the regional party this time. Sabitri’s husband Benudhar too has a good base in the constituency. However, BJP’s Dushmanta Kumar Swain could gain from the problems BJD is facing and pose a serious challenge to Sabitri.

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According to BJD insiders, the party had left Khandapada hanging while trying to strike a poll deal with sitting MLA Soumya Ranjan, who won 2019 elections with the highest victory margin of about 81,000 votes. The party was reportedly contemplating to offer the Khandapada ticket to Soumya’s daughter Tanaya Patnaik, who is not in politics. But Soumya is said to have turned down the proposal.

With the Soumya deal not working out, the regional party had to chose from three major contenders – Anubhav, Sabitri and Gayadhar Parida.

In 2014, Anubhav won from Khandapada on BJD ticket but he had to make way for Soumya five years later. Though peeved, Anubhav had continued with the party. However, on being denied ticket this time, he has resigned from the BJD.

Incidentally in 2014 polls also the party had replaced MLA Siddharth Sekhar Singh with Anubhav, son of former MLAs Arun Kumar Patnaik and Bijaylaxmi Patnaik. Subsequently, Siddharth joined the BJP and unsuccessfully fought the 2019 polls.

Party insiders said following Soumya’s expulsion Anubhav was expecting a nomination this time. But the party opted from Sabitri as it felt her candidature could ensure support of woman voters and help counter BJP’s Cuttack Lok Sabha nominee Bhartruhari Mahtab in the parliament polls. Khandapada Assembly segment falls under Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency. Bhartruhari recently quit the BJD and joined the saffron party.

With its own leaders turning against it both in the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha polls, BJD faces an unenviable situation in Khandapada. Can it prove its strength and get going?

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