Show Of Unity For Varsha: BJD Bid To Fix Barchana Puzzle Ahead Of Odisha Elections

Bhubaneswar: Will the surprise nomination to quell possible dissidence in Barchana assembly seat in Odisha’s Jajpur district yield the desired result for Biju Janata Dal (BJD)?


Three days after the party announced actress Varsha Priyadarshini as its nominee from the seat, a meeting was convened at Sankha Bhavan here on Tuesday to thrash out the alleged intra-party differences amid reservations of local leaders over a ‘parachute candidate’.

“She is our candidate and discussions were held on how to ensure her victory by a huge margin in the upcoming polls,” said Raj Narayan Mohapatra, who recently quit Congress and joined the BJD and was believed to be a ticket aspirant.

Mohapatra, son of former Congress MLA from Barchana Sitakant Mohapatra, further said he had joined the BJD unconditionally and for development of the constituency. “We stand united and are determined to ensure the victory of Varsha by a record margin,” he said, while dismissing reports about differences over her nomination.

Janmejoy Lenka, another ticket aspirant for the seat, also attended the meeting. In 2009, Lenka contested as an Independent from Barchana and in 2014 from Congress. He joined the BJD before 2019 elections and has been quite active in handling organisational assignments.

Sitting six-time MLA and former minister, Amar Prasad Satapathy, whom the party denied ticket this time, also exhorted his supporters to adhere to the party’s decision through a video message. “My well-wishers were hurt after my ticket was cancelled. I am getting proposals from other parties, but I am still with the BJD. I have decided not to contest in 2024. People of Barchana are family to me and (I will) continue to serve them,” he said.

He was also scheduled to meet BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik later in the day.

The surprise nomination of Varsha has not gone down well with Satapathy’s supporters, who gathered at the former’s residence here on April 18, demanding a reconsideration. Varsha later met Satapathy and an ‘all is well’ picture of theirs was circulated in the media.

According BJD insiders, the narrow margin of 1,485 votes by which Satpathy won the 2019 elections had forced the party to think of a new face from the constituency. Varsha joined BJD on April 18 and received the ticket on April 20. Her nomination was also in line with the party’s strategy to field more women candidates from Assembly seats in the state.

The road ahead, however, is likely to be tough for Varsha, who is pitted against BJP’s Amar Kumar Nayak. The BJP candidate enjoys a good support base in Barchana from where he first contested as an independent in 2014 and finished third with a vote share of 20.72%. In 2019 elections, he improved his vote share to 45.55% while contesting from the BJP and also reduced the victory margin to mere 1,485 votes.

Satapathy, on the other hand, had represented Barchana as a Janata Dal MLA in 1990 and 1995. In 2000, he won the seat on BJD ticket. He, however, switched sides to Nationalist Congress Party and again won the seat in 2009. He later returned to the Conch party, and continued his victory march in 2014 and 2019. He had defeated Janmejoy Lenka in 2014 by almost 17,000 votes.

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