BJD MLAs up in arms against district heads in Odisha

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 27:

With less than 24 hours to go before Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal announces Naveen Patnaik as its President, the party has not been able to decide its district presidents for three of its organisational districts. Worse, MLAs have started taking public stands against each other.

Biju Janata Dal BJD Naveen Patnaik Odisha

Even though ideally the elections for Bolangir, Sambalpur and Ganjam districts should have been completed on February 10 along with other districts; party brass are yet to take a call on the presidents owing to intra-fighting inside the party.

In Bolangir district, several BJD MLAs have taken a public stand against sitting President Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo — who also is the MP of Bolangir and a member of the influential erstwhile royal family.

Kantabanji MLA Ayub Khan today openly revolted against Singh Deo.

“He may be a member of the royal family, but that is a thing of the past. The fact is, he doesn’t care about the district organisation and spends most of his time in Delhi as he also is an MP. We have not only lost Bolangir and the Patnagarh Assembly seats but also lost several local elections under his watch. He doesn’t even call meetings of the executive body to discuss the issues. I would like him to go,” said Khan.

While another MLA from the district – MSME Minister and Loisingha MLA Jogendra Behera has also expressed similar intentions, Titilagarh MLA Tukuni Sahu also backs the ouster of Singh Deo – even though she refuses to go public about it.

As per sources, even though Singh Deo has agreed to vacate the post, he has been pressing hard to rehabilitate one of his protégées to the post to ensure control over the politics of the district.

Similarly, a power struggle between Sambalpur MLA Raseswari Panigrahi and Rairakhol MLA Rohit Pujari has delayed the announcement of Sambalpur district president. As per a source in BJD, party observer for the district Bikram Keshari Arukh and Sambalpur MP Nagendra Kumar Pradhan also oppose a repeat term for sitting president Pujari. Like Singh Deo, Pujari also has been trying hard to get someone from his camp as district president.

In Ganjam – the district that has 10 BJD MLAs and has three ministers apart from BJD Supremo Naveen Patnaik, while the party workers want three term sitting president Subash Moharana to go, a new name could not be agreed upon owing to growing dissent among leaders.

As per information provided by BJD Spokesperson and election returning officer Pratap Deb, Naveen Patnaik is likely to handpick the presidents of these districts later next week.

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