Odisha polls: “Rita who?” ask Jajpur BJD leaders

Odisha Sun Times Bureau

Bhubaneswar, Mar 25:

BJD leaders and workers in Jajpur district – and elsewhere – are heard asking questions about the party’s nominee for the Jajpur (SC) Lok Sabha constituency, Rita Tarai.

BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik stunned everybody by pulling out of his hat the name of Tarai, a zilla parishad member, as the party’s candidate for the constituency represented in the last two parliaments by Mohan Jena.

Kalpataru Das
Kalpataru Das

Tarai’s elevation from zilla parishad member to Lok Sabha candidate has raised eyebrows all around with Jajpur BJD leaders attributing the quantum jump to her proximity to Kalpataru Das, the powerful Panchayati Raj minister who is wielding tremendous clout in ticket distribution.

Mohan Jena, who lost out to Tarai in the race for the ticket, minces no words in blaming Das for the denial of the party ticket to him

“It was Mr Das who was responsible for the denial of ticket to me. He elevated a lady who is virtually unknown outside her Dharmasala area,” he told OST.

Jena claimed that Tarai had not even applied for the party ticket and thus was nowhere in the picture. “She applied for the ticket at 3.30 pm and got a ticket at 5.30 pm the same day,” he said.

“If they had to replace me, there was no dearth of eligible candidates in Jajpur who could have been nominated in my place,’ Jena said.

But why would Das oppose him? “Because I opposed his corrupt ways,” answered Jena.

Jena also accused the BJD vice president of ‘intolerant of an educated Dalit’, pointing to the fact that Ms Tarai is not even a matriculate.

Party insiders say Das proposed Tarai’s name on the grounds that the party must field more women candidates after failing to get a ticket for his OSD and then his wife.

Another senior BJD leader from the district, who was keen to have his wife nominated for the Jajpur Lok Sabha sea once it became clear that Jena would not be renominated, also accused Das of promoting undeserving candidates. “He has promoted only those who would always remain under his clutches and would do as he pleases,” said the MP requesting anonymity.

Das, however, has described the allegations levelled against him as ‘baseless’. “Those who lost out on party tickets are just venting out their frustration,” he said.

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