Odisha polls: Fate of BJD bigwigs still hangs in balance

Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Mar 22:

The fate of the biggies of the ruling party hangs in balance as the BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik continues to play hide and seek with them without taking a final call on their tickets.

Among the BJD veterans who have been kept on tenterhooks are Prafulla Ghadai, Dr Damodar Rout, Bishnu Das, Raghunath Mohanty and Rabi Narayan Pani. Even four-time MP Prasanna Patsani is keeping his fingers crossed, unsure if he would be renominated.

Prafulla Ghadai
Prafulla Ghadai

The ruling party is yet to announce candidates for four Lok Sabha and 36 Assembly seats as party strategists are assessing the possible fall out of dropping some of the sitting MLAs and MPs.

According to party sources, Naveen Patnaik is in two minds over giving ticket to Prafulla Ghadai and his son Pritiranjan Ghadai, who represent Sukinda Assembly and Korei seat respectively.

Sources said Naveen has made up his mind not to give more than one ticket to one family and that explains why there is uncertainty over the fate of the Ghadais.

Besides, the entry of the popular cine actor Akash DasNayak into the ruling party has queered the pitch for the father-son duo because the chief minister has apparently had a chat with Akash over his possible candidature from either Sukinda or Korei.

If Akash is chosen as the candidate for either of the two seats, it would be a huge jolt for Prafulla Ghadai because Akash’s father Mayadhar Nayak is an old rival of the senior leader in the field of trade union politics in the mining belt of Sukinda in Jajpur district.

“Since the chief minister is very well aware of the bitter enmity that exists between Ghadai and Nayak, he must have had good reasons to induct Akash into the BJD”, said a Jajpur-based BJD leader.

Akash was inducted at the instance of several young leaders of the local unit of  the party, something that points to the decline of Ghadai’s position among the party’s rank, he said.

Damodar Rout
Damodar Rout

However, Prafulla Ghadai has refused to comment on the ticket issue and has said he has left the decision to the party supremo.

The party has not named any candidate for the Jajpur Lok Sabha seat either. Party sourcs said Naveen is unlikely to renominate sitting MP Mohan Jena for the constituency.

Similarly, the fate of Bishnu Das and Damodar Rout hang in balance as the party president is yet to decide their fate.

According to party sources, BJD wants to field Das, the arch rival of Dama Rout, against CPI’s sitting MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai, who recently crossed over to the Congress and was immediately nominated as the party candidate from Jagatsinghpur.

However, the Jagatsinghpur MLA is not too keen to contest the Lok Sabha polls, forcing the party to hold the declaration of candidates of Bishnu Das and Damodar Rout.

Now the party has two choices. It can either try and convince Das to contest the LS poll or look for another candidate which is likely to be Damodar Rout, feels analysts.

The party has also not declared its candidates for five Assembly seats in Baleswar – Basta, Simulia, Soro, Remuna and Baleswar Sadar – as it is deliberating whether to givea  ticket to Raghunath Mohanty. Mohanty is entangled in a dowry torture case while his daughter-in-law has been knocking at the doors of different forums, including chief minister’s office, to keep the matter alive in order to ensure that her father-in-law does not get a party ticket.

However, since Patnaik is determined to ensure that Union minister Srikant Jena does not re-enter Parliament, he is loath to losing the support of a senior leader, who has a strong base in Baleswar politics.

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