Odisha

Odisha Elections 2024: Family, Turncoats Get BJD Nomination; Naveen Repeats 2019 Experiment

By
OB Bureau

Bhubaneswar: With its fifth list of nine MLA candidates, the BJD on Wednesday played the Naveen card again in western Odisha, dropped four sitting MLAs and rewarded as many turncoats.

It also attempted to quell any possible revolt within the party by replacing two senior leaders with their wives.

TWO SEATS GAMBLE

BJD president and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik will contest from Kantabanji seat in Balangir district along with his traditional Hinjili seat in Ganjam district, where he is seeking re-election for the sixth term.

He is pitted against sitting Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja. Speculation was rife that the four-time MLA might switch sides to BJD despite being renominated as Congress candidate from the seat. However, the regional party put a full stop to those rumours by fielding Naveen from Kantabanji.

It is for the second time in his 25-year-long political career that Naveen will be contesting from two seats. In 2019 assembly elections, he had won from Bijepur in western Odisha but gave up the seat and retained Hinjili.

WIFE & DAUGHTER RISE

As being speculated, the party has fielded Indira Nanda, wife of former minister Rabi Narayan Nanda, from Jeypore.

Nanda along with his supporters had reportedly met top BJD leaders in Bhubaneswar on April 13 and expressed his desire to fight the polls from Jeypore. While there was speculation that he might switch sides to BJP if denied a ticket to contest the upcoming election, Nanda adopted a wait-and-watch strategy, expecting a BJD ticket at least for his wife.

Nanda had won from Jeypore in 2000, 2004 and 2009 elections but lost the seat in 2014 and 2019 elections to Congress rival Taraprasad Bahinipati.

The Conch party also replaced sitting Angul MLA Rajani Kant Singh with his wife Sanjukta Singh. The four-time MLA has been a dominant force in Angul BJD since 2004. He had resigned from the deputy speaker post in November 2023 ostensibly to return to active politics as race for the seat heated up with numerous aspirants.

Sulakhana Gitanjali Devi will be taking the political legacy of the Royal family of Dharakote forward in Sankhemundi Assembly constituency. She is the daughter Dharakote queen Nandini Devi, who had won the seat in 2014 but lost to Ramesh Jena of Congress five years later.

Less than 24 hours of joining the BJD, Sambalpur BJP MP Nitesh Ganga Deb’s wife Arundhati Devi was rewarded with Deogarh Assembly seat. The joining of the Deogarh queen and her son Naman Ganga Deb on Tuesday evening also assumed significance for the Sambalpur LS seat, which is witnessing a direct contest between senior BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and BJD organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das.

The BJD has repeated Barsha Singh Bariha from Padampur, from where she had registered an emphatic win in the December 2023 bypoll necessitated by the death of her father and sitting MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha. Barsha is also the daughter-in-law of senior BJP leader Rama Ranjan Baliarsingh, who switched sides from BJD in 2018.

Also Read: Naveen Patnaik To Contest From Kantabanji; BJD Swaps Sambalpur, Rairakhol Nominees

AXED & REWARDED

The party has dropped four sitting MLAs – Purna Chandra Baka (Chitrakonda), Kishore Chandra Naik (Kuchinda), Rajnikant Singh (Angul) and Samir Ranjan Dash (Nimapada).

Former MLA Rajendra Kumar Chhatria has replaced Kishore Chandra Naik in Kuchinda. Chhatria got the ticket four days after joining the regional party. He had won from Kuchinda in 2009 on a Congress ticket but lost to BJP’s Rabinarayan Naik five years later.

Dilip Nayak, another defector, have also been rewarded with a party ticket. He has replaced sitting Nimapada MLA Samir Ranjan Das, who courted controversy over his suspected role in the death of BJD zilla parishad member Dharmendra Sahoo in September 2022 and resigned as School and Mass Education Minister in May 2023.

Nayak had contested the Assembly polls from Nimapada constituency in 2019 on Congress ticket.

Laxmipriya Naik, who was the Congress candidate from Chitrakonda in 2019 polls, will contest the upcoming Assembly polls from the same seat on BJD ticket.

Arundhati Devi is the fourth party hopper on the list to have earned a nomination.

SEAT SWAPPING

The BJD has swapped candidates in two Assembly constituencies. Former minister Prasanna Acharya will contest from Rairakhol and Rohit Pujari from Sambalpur.

The swapping came amid reports that Prasanna Acharya was unhappy with the party’s decision to field him from Sambalpur and was instead keen to contest from Rairakhol from where he was elected in 2009. He had even meet Naveen on April 12 and requested him to reconsider the decision.

Among these nine seats, the BJD, pushing for increased women’s representation in electoral politics, has nominated female candidates in six, taking the total to 26 in 126 Assembly constituencies announced so far. In 2019, 20 out of 147 candidates were women and 12 among them had  emerged victorious.

The party has also stuck to its promise of fielding women candidates from 33% Lok Sabha seats.

 

OB Bureau

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