Bhubaneswar: Senior leader Samir Mohanty was elected unopposed as president of Odisha BJP here on Thursday.
The formal announcement was made by party observer for organisational polls, Narendra Singh Tomar
He will replace Basanta Panda, who was elected from Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency during 2019 general elections.
It is after 14 years that a leader from coastal Odisha has been picked for the top post of the saffron party in the state. K V Singhdeo, Jual Oram, Suresh Pujari, Debendra Pradhan, Bimbdhar Kuanr, Manmohan Samal and Biswabhusan Harichandan have in the past helmed the party in the state.
Barring Harichandan and Samal, the others represent western Odisha. Pradhan, father of Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, is from central Odisha and represented Deogarh in western Odisha in Parliament. Panda is also from western Odisha.
The decision to elevate Mohanty, who was serving as a party vice president, is seemingly aimed at strengthening the party support base in coastal Odisha, where ruling BJD is dominant. He might help to improve the party prospects in the urban parts, keeping in view the municipal polls that are due, a party insider said.
Party sources also hinted that making a leader from Bhubaneswar the state head could be a well-calibrated strategy of a powerful lobby within the state BJP to check the possible growth of Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi, who is said to have strong links at the Centre and in recent weeks floated ‘social organisations’ dedicated to women and youth.
Mohanty reportedly had the unanimous support of the district presidents and state party council members.
The BJP leader, who has been with the saffron party for decades, is known for his organisational skills rather than electoral successes. He lost the 2014 Assembly elections from Ekamra-Bhubaneswar constituency. Prior to that he was corporator of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation. He also served as the chairman of Odisha State Cooperative Housing Corporation.
He has risen from grassroots and has been associated with various trade unions and social organizations
The party had earlier announced election for the post on January 17 and the nomination process for the election was scheduled on Thursday at the party headquarters in the presence of central observers for organizational polls – Tomar and Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
However, Mohanty emerged as the consensus nominee for the post a day before the election.
Prithivraj Harichandan was also a frontrunner for the post, but his candidature was not approved on the pretext that his father, Biswabhusan Harichandan was earlier appointed as governor of Andhra Pradesh, the sources added.