Suryakant Jena

As the big day for by-election to the Assembly constituency of Dhamnagar inches closer, political temperature gradually rises in Odisha prompting major political parties in the state to lay their roadmap, concretize strategy and hit campaign trail.

On the one hand while the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is suffering from a malaise of its own making, the BJP is looking to retain the seat after the passing away of the sitting MLA Bishnu Sethi. On the other side, the Congress seemed to be holding on to the picture just to survive in the poll battleground.

The dissection of the poll preparedness of BJD shows it might be desperate to snatch the seat from BJP and stamp its authority ahead of the 2024 general elections, but its problem of plenty in terms of candidates has come in its way of success.

Party sources say that as the number of aspirants for the ticket is mounting with each passing day creating trouble for BJD, the party is convening meetings daily in guise of padyatras to appease the disgruntled leaders while choosing the best candidate for the election.

So far, as many as seven candidates are said to be in the front line to grab the party ticket for the election. The aspirants include former MLA Rajendra Das, Muktikanta Mondal, newcomer Dr Sanjay Das, face of dalits in the BJD flank Rajendra Prasad Jena, BJP’s 2014 Bhadrak Lok Sabha candidate Sarat Das, Spandan Mallick.

Similarly, youth entrepreneur and son of 26 number Zilla Parishad Zone member Gitanjali Mallick, Bhadrak Zilla Parishad Chairman Prafulla Jena are also said to be in the candidate race.

BJD leader and party’s Bhadrak observer Pranab Balabantaray said there is no dissidence within the party. We are a very disciplined and the role of candidate announcement lies with the party Supremo Naveen Patnaik.

Meanwhile, the BJP seems to be better composed in the area of candidate selection and instead the party is busy in putting special strategy to execution. Son of departed sitting MLA Bishnu Sethi, Suryabanshi Suraj who is almost sure to be the party’s candidate for the by-election has begun his campaign. BJP’s Odisha Prabhari D Purandeswari, party state president Sameer Mohanty and other top leaders have already camped in Bhadrak to oversee the BJP’s bypoll preparations.

“I am sure that my father’s blessings and people’s love will help us win the election again,” said Suryabanshi Suraj.

On the other hand, the Congress too seemed to have landed in the candidate selection dilemma. The party has held extensive discussions with ground level workers and leaders and is likely to formalise a blueprint to take the party’s fight in the election forward after receiving the feedback. Several faces from veteran leaders like Ananta Sethi to Harekrushna Sethi, Bidyadhar Jena and Panchanan Mandal are said to be frontrunners to get the Congress ticket for the by-election.

Voters in the total of 31 panchayats in Dhamnagar block , 13 GPs in Tihidi block and 11 wards under the newly constituted Dhamnagar NAC will exercise their adult franchise to elect the new MLA on November 3. Counting of votes and result will be declared on November 6.