Will Rebels Spoil The Electoral Equation For BJD In Urban Polls?

Bhubaneswar: The landslide victory in recently-concluded Panchayat elections has not made things easy for the ruling BJD, which is dealing with dissidents ahead of the urban polls slated for March 24.

It is evident from a large number of suspensions of leaders and workers during the last three to four days due to anti-party activities. These 50-odd suspended leaders are rebel candidates, who entered the fray despite all efforts by the Conch party to dissuade them from fighting the polls. Bhubaneswar and Cuttack municipal corporations are the worst affected with more than 20 leaders being suspended alone in Bhubaneswar and nine in Cuttack.

At many wards in these two municipal corporations, the contest is between the official and rebel candidates.

BJD’s Sunita Paikray will be facing dissident Ritika Balabantaray at Ward no-39 in Bhubaneswar. Similarly, turncoat Arjuna Behera, who had joined BJD during the last general elections, has fielded his wife as an independent candidate against former corporator Nabakishore Behera’s wife at Ward no-37.

Former corporator Sheikh Nizamuddin and Swarnaprabha Ray are also contesting as independent candidates from Ward no 29 and 7, respectively after being denied BJD ticket.

Seven BJD members of the Baripada municipality were also suspended for anti-party activities after a scuffle between two factions in front of Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Sudam Marndi at Baripada.

Notably, the BJD kept the ward-wise list of candidates under wraps till the last moment to avoid defections. This gambit, however, gave rise to the dissidents, who filed nominations as independent candidates accusing the party of betrayal.

While BJD maintained that the rebel candidates will have no impact on the party’s performance in the polls, sources said that efforts are still being made to win them back and get their support for the official candidates.

Sunday also saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suspending 12 leaders holding different positions in Sundargarh, Nuapada, Koraput, Jharsuguda and Nabaranpur as a disciplinary action.

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