Odisha Elections 2024: Varsha Replaces Amar As BJD Dumps Old Guards In New List Of Assembly Candidates

Bhubaneswar: In a surprise move, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Saturday dropped five sitting MLAs, including three former Ministers, while announcing the sixth list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections in Odisha.


Notably, the regional party has changed candidates for eight seats in the fresh list for nine Assembly constituencies except in Karanjia, where it has renominated sitting MLA and Minister for Women and Child Development Basanti Hembram.

As the Naveen Patnaik-led party sought to say goodbye to old guards, two veteran politicians and former Ministers Amar Prasad Satapathy and Sashi Bhusan Behera, were denied ticket as BJD released a fresh list of candidates for nine Assembly seats.

Both Satpathy and Behera happen to be incumbent MLAs representing Barchana and Kendrapada constituencies respectively in the outgoing Assembly.

Apart from them, another former Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi has also been denied BJD ticket this time. He is the sitting MLA from Simulia in Balasore district.

The other sitting legislators who have been dropped by the regional party are Bhagirathi Sethy, and Minakshi Mahanta — who won the 2019 Assembly Elections from Anandapur and Champua respectively.

Earlier, the regional party had expelled sitting Remuna MLA Sudhansu Sekhar Parida.

The ruling BJD chose Ollywood actor Varsha Priyadarshini, who joined the party on Thursday, as its candidate for Barchana Assembly seat replacing political heavyweight Amar Satpathy.

Varsha, whose entry into the ruling party came after her ex-husband and actor-turned-politician Anubhav Mohanty quit BJD and joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the twin polls. Varsha would be fighting her maiden electoral battle in Barchana.

Similarly, veteran leader, ex-Minister and sitting MLA from Kendrapada Sashi Bhusan Behera has been dumped by the regional party. In the coastal Assembly constituency, he has been replaced with Ganeswar Behera, also a former Minister, who quit Congress and joined BJP recently.

Likewise, the ruling BJD selected Abhimanyu Sethi, Sanatan Mahakud, Subhashini Sahu and Bidyasmita Mahalik in places of sitting legislators in Anandpur, Champua, Simulia and Remuna.
Of the nine candidates nominated for party tickets in the latest list, four are women candidates.

Prominent among those who were given party tickets included Congress deserter Ganeswar Behera, a former minister.

However, the ruling BJD sprang a major surprise by naming film star Varsha the politically significant Barchana assembly seat in place of Amar Prasad Satapathy, a six-time MLA. Apart from Satpathy, Janmejaya Lenka and recently inducted Raj Mohapatra were among major aspirants for BJD ticket from the seat.

The regional party also made a major change in mineral-rich Keonjhar by nominating former MLA Sanatan Mahakud as its candidate from Champua Assembly seat in the district.

Known for his close links with mining business, Sanatan has been wielding considerable influence in the tribal-dominated district.

Widely regarded as one of the richest politicians in the state, Sanatan was a trade union leader before he had switched over to the business of transporting ores.

Subsequently, he took a plunge into politics and lost the assembly polls in 2009 to Jitu Patnaik. However, he emerged victorious in 2014 elections from the Champua assembly seat as an independent candidate.

With the release of the fresh list, the ruling BJD has put an end to suspense over its nominee for Chilika Assembly constituency. The regional party has fielded former MLA Raghunath Sahu from the seat. Sahu had the won the Assembly elections from Chilika constituency in 2009 but in 2014. Veteran leader and former MP Prasanna Patsani was among prominent aspirants for BJD ticket from the seat.

Two other surprise candidates announced by the party are Bidyasmita Mahalik from Remuna and Subhasini Sahoo from Simulia.

While Mahalik is the Sarpanch of the Patripal panchayat under Remuna block, Subhasini is the wife of Shashi Kumar Sahoo, who unsuccessfully contested the seat on the BJD ticket in 2019 and the BJP ticket in 2014.

Mahalik has been nominated in place of sitting MLA Sudhanshu Parida, who was expelled for his alleged anti-people activities.

In Simulia, Sahoo replaced two-time MLA and former Tourism and Culture Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi.


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