It seems that the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is more worried about infighting rather than its rivals ahead of the crucial Jharsuguda bypoll. The reason being the tussle between factions of late BJD leaders - Naba Kishore Das and Kishore Mohanty.
The infighting between the two groups is nothing new and it had taken a new dimension after Naba Das changed camp and joined BJD in 2019. Late BJD leader Kishore Mohanty was elected thrice from the Jharsuguda Assembly Constituency. Then after Naba Das joined party, Kishore Mohanty was allegedly sidelined.
Later, Kishore Mohanty was elected from the neighbouring Brajarajnagar Assembly seat. However, this did not end the simmering tension between the two factions. In the same election, it was said that the Kishore Mohanty faction did not support Naba Das and diverted votes to BJP for which the Saffron party candidate Dinesh Jain bagged around 52,000 votes.
Situation was such that Kishore Mohanty operated from the BJD office while Naba Das had to set up his own office to look after the party affairs. On the other hand, it is also said that a compromise has been struck between the factions after the demise of both Naba Das and Kishore Mohanty.
Amidst the prevailing situation, both the BJP and Congress are trying to capitalise on the internal rift within the BJD. However, BJD has refuted infighting in the party.
BJP MLA, Nauri Nayak said, “The tussle between supporters of Naba Das and Kishore is continuing and it was evident during the last elections. This time also such a situation will happen.”
PCC President, Sarat Patnaik said, “There is infighting and a lot of them are returning to Congress which is the oldest party.”
BJD leader Puspendra Singh Deo said, “In such a large party, there could be some differences of opinion but there is no rift. All are from the BJD and they will support BJD candidate and we will win with a huge margin.”
It is pertinent to mention here that late BJD leader Kishore Mohanty was also the Jharsuguda district president and the post is lying vacant since his demise. It is being said no-replacement was appointed to avoid further escalation of the rift. After Mohanty’s demise, his wife Alaka Mohanty was given a ticket and she won the Brajarajnagar bypoll.
Though Alaka Mohanty is now campaigning in Jharusugda, she is not that active, reports say.
It remains to be seen what impact the ongoing rift will have on the Jharsuguda bypoll as the political parties have already intensified their campaigning here.
Senior journalist, Tapaswilal Tiwari said, “Though there was understanding, it was just superficial. But there was resentment among supporters and it may help the Opposition.”