Rashmi Rekha Das

The Odisha Legislative Assembly has written to Election Commission of India and Chief Electoral Officer about vacancy in the House following the demise of BJP’s Dhamnagar MLA and Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Odisha State Assembly, Bishnu Sethi .

The state government’s hurriedness to initiate By-election process for the vacant Dhamnagar constituency before the leader’s eleventh day death ritual has drawn flak from opposition.

According to sources, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Bishnu Sethi had defeated Biju Janata Dal candidate Rajendra Das by a margin of 4,625 votes in 2019 General Election. BJD had won all the Assembly seats in Bhadrak district except Dhamnagar in 2019.

However, it is still under wraps whether the ruling party will field Rajendra Das for by-polls. On the other hand, Bhadrak residents eagerly waiting to see whether BJP will give ticket anyone from Sethi’s family or not.

Upon being asked about it, BJD leader Rajendra Das said, “First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to Bishu Sethi 's family. As per the rule, ECI has been informed about the vacancy. As eleventh day death ritual is yet to be held, district wing of BJD has not held any discussion in this regard. However, BJD Supremo Naveen Patnaik will take a final call on it. As far as I am concerned, I have always worked for the party’s benefit.”

BJP State Secretary Abhimanyu Sethi said “I am deeply saddened by the demise of Bishnu Sethi. I came to know that Speaker has informed ECI about it so that by-polls will be held as soon as possible. I feel that there is no need to hurry for elections when the leader’s tenth day death ritual is yet to be performed. This should not happen. However, as Dhamnagar is a standing seat for BJP, we are very hopeful to win election there.”

Echoing the same, Congress leader Narayan Charan Sahoo said, “Election Commission will take final decision in this regard. BJD and Congress got defeated in Dhamnagar constituency in 2019 General elections. As Congress has become active under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, Congress’ chance of winning the by-poll is high.” 

The Secretariat of the Odisha Legislative Assembly has issued notification in this regard and informed the Election Commission in order to enable it to take steps for holding by-election to fill up the vacancy.

BJP’s Dhamnagar MLA and Deputy Leader in Odisha Assembly, Bishnu Sethi passed away after a prolonged illness on September 19. He was 61. He breathed his last while undergoing treatment at the ICU of AIIMS in Bhubaneswar.  Sethi was elected to the Assembly from Dhamnagar constituency in 2019 and Chandbali constituency in 2000.