Vikash Sharma

At a time when the 10th day rituals of murdered Odisha Health Minister Naba Das are yet to conclude, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems to have already jumped into the bypoll mode. The statements of BJD MLA Sarada Nayak during a condolence meeting held at Jharsuguda in the memory of late Naba Das seem to be indicating the same. What is more surprising is the fact that Nayak was seen appealing party leaders and workers to ensure that BJD wins the bypoll with a huge margin.

“The byelection will happen and our (BJD) victory is certain. But it is our responsibility to ensure that we increase our vote margin,” said Nayak during the condolence meeting.

Such statements have not gone down well, particularly with the opposition parties that have started training guns at the ruling BJD over such statements of the leader. The opposition parties have slammed the ruling BJD for putting more emphasis on the bypoll and vote margin instead of trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the brutal murder of Naba Das.

BJP leader, Pradip Purohit said, “Instead of paying tributes to Naba Das, the way BJD leader Sarada Nayak and others gave statements for votes is totally condemnable.”

Congress MLA, Santosh Singh Saluja said, “The BJD and its leaders have no sympathy and they are only concerned about election and votes.”

BJD leader Sarada Nayak said, “We will try to work hard under CM Naveen Patnaik’s ideology and to complete the pending works of Naba Das with the cooperation of administrative officials and others.”

Meanwhile, speculations are rife over Naba Das’ successor. Will it be his daughter Dipali or son Vishal? It is pertinent to mention here that Naba Das’ daughter Dipali was very much active in the field of politics and was regularly seen attending various events including political ones in Jharsuguda.

Dipali was also seen campaigning for party along with his late father during the Padmapur byelection. It is said that Dipali is most likely to be the successor of Naba Das.

“Naba Das had clout in the region and it will be a challenge for the BJD to fill that vacuum,” said senior journalist, Prasanna Mohanty.

Earlier, BJD had roped in late Kishore Mohanty’s wife Alaka in the Brajarajnagar byelection. All eyes will now be on BJD to fill in the vacuum left after the demise of two leaders in two constituencies in one district of western Odisha.

The Bargarh Parliamentary constituency has witnessed multiple elections since 2019. There have been elections twice in three assembly seats out of seven so far. Rita Sahu was elected from Bijepur after CM Naveen Patnaik had vacated the seat. Similarly, Alaka Mohanty was elected in the Brajarajnagar byelection after the demise of her husband Kishore Mohanty. After the death of Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, his daughter Barsha was elected from Padampur.

(Reported by Harihar Chand and Bhagirathi Sahoo)