Pradeep Pattanayak

Disgruntled Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders who are contesting the Zilla Parishad elections independently after they were denied party tickets are perceived as a headache for the party.

Out of the total 298 independent Zilla Parishad candidates, a majority are these disgruntled BJD leaders who are believed to be capable enough to throw a spanner in the party’s plan to capture all the 852 Zilla Parishad seats. 

Let’s list up the disgruntled BJD leaders who may upset the party’s plans. In Nabarangpur district, the most prominent face is Dibyadan Suna. Being a BJD loyalist and party Nabarangpur district vice president, he had been an aspirant for Zone No-I of the Zilla Parishad. But the party denied a ticket to him and has instead fielded someone else. 

Suna is now contesting as an independent candidate for Zilla Parishad member post of Zone No-I. “It was when the party ticket was denied that my followers stood by me and asked me to contest as an independent candidate,” Suna said.  

The BJD is also going to face trouble in Kashipur block of Rayagada district. The party’s three disappointed candidates are contesting for as many Zilla Parishad seats in Kashipur Block. 

In Malkangiri, the situation is no different for the BJD either. Balenki Gopal, who was the former vice-chairman of Malkangiri Block, had been an aspirant for Zilla Parishad member post of Zone No-3. The party had also promised her of a ticket. 

But in the last moment, she was denied the ticket, forcing her to contest as an independent candidate. “The women in my village are campaigning for me. They are visiting from door to door. From the response I am receiving, I am confident that I will win the election,” maintained Balenki. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party is also struggling with dissension over ticket distribution. After being denied a party ticket, Bhubaneswar Dwibedy is contesting as an independent candidate for the post of Zilla Parishad member from Zone No-III. 

“The people of five Panchayats regard me more as a social worker than a leader. I have stood by them through thick and thin. And this is my strength. I am contesting the election on three issues- education, health, and road connectivity,” Dwivedi said.  

Why has the BJD had more dissidents than any other party? Union Minister Bishweswar Tudu has the answer to this question. “Lured by promises of seats, leaders from other parties had crossed over to the BJD. When it came to ticket distribution, the party failed in adjusting its own leaders, leading to dissension. The unhappy leaders are now contesting as independent candidates. So the party is destined to experience damages in the coming election,” Tudu opined, adding that the dissension over ticket distribution in his party is negligible.

Former OPCC president Jayadev Jena had a different take on the independent candidates. “If the candidates contesting independently win, it will cause trouble for both the BJD and the BJP. In that case, the Congress is sitting pretty,” Jena said. 

When asked, BJD MP Subash Singh pooh-poohed the assumption that the independent candidates may make matters worse for the party. “We have never done so extensive exercises before as we are doing this time. We are fielding candidates after many deliberations and taking the opinions of people into consideration. There is no problem for our party,” Singh said.