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Pradeep Pattanayak

With the ending of the Panchayat elections in the State, the entire focus has now shifted to the upcoming Urban Local Body (ULB) polls for which the filing of nomination papers will begin from tomorrow (Wednesday). 

On Tuesday, aspirants for corporator seats in the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) were seen teeming up outside the official residence of former Mayor and Biju Janata Dal Bhubaneswar (Central) MLA Ananta Narayan Jena, seemingly making the last time attempt to get a ticket. 

However, party insiders said that the list of corporator candidates has almost been finalised. But the party is yet to zero in on the Mayor candidate. It is pertinent to mention here that the post of Mayor of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been reserved for woman candidates. 

For the coveted Mayor post, Susmita Bagchi, Iti Samant, Rosalin Patasani and Sreemayee Mishra are said to be in the race. MLA Jena said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik would take the final call on the candidate. 

"The CM is known for taking the right decision at the right time. He will soon take a decision. Since developmental activities have gathered pace in the State, people are with the BJD," said Jena.  

At the same time, the State unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also started its exercises to finalise the list of candidates from the various mandals of the Capital City.  Meanwhile, names of Lekhashree Samantasinghar and Anu Choudhury are doing the rounds in the party corridor as the probables for the Mayor’s post. 

"Today we had a meeting to decide on candidates. The candidates will be shortlisted on the basis of two criteria, qualification and ability to win," said Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi. 

The grand old party Congress is not behind either. Rashmi Mohapatra seems to be ahead of all in the race.

"We have set some criteria to select a candidate for the Mayor’s post. She must be a resident of Bhubaneswar, educated and she must have good reputation and money power," said senior Congress leader and Jatni MLA Suresh Routray. 

The political temperature in Cuttack is also soaring. It is widely discussed that the ruling party may select an administrator instead of a leader for the Cuttack Municipal Corporation's Mayoral post.

The names of Former CMC Commissioner Rabi Nanda, former Revenue Commissioner Anil Samal, Ranjan Biswal, who is a close aide of Minister Pratap Jena, former MLA Debasish Samantray, MLA Subash Singh and Arindam Ray, who is brother-in-law of BJD's organisational secretary Pranab Praksh Das, are doing the rounds. 

"For the Mayor post of CMC, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will take the decision," said Prabhat Biswal, former BJD MLA. 

Similarly, it has been discussed that the Bharatiya Janata Party may pick up one among actor-turned-politician Sritam Das, former corporator Chitta Das and party's former State treasurer Binod Das as its Mayoral candidate. 

"We are mentally prepared for the coming 15 day-long battle. We will make the BJD's long list of corruptions as our poll issues," said BJP's Cuttack Nagar President Lalatendu Badu.     

Congress leader Giribala Behera is in the race for the Mayor candidate of the party. 

"Congress will decide such a candidate for the Mayor seat who is associated with the CMC, well aware of the areas under the CMC and accessibility," said Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim.   

Notably, the process of filing of nomination for Municipal election will continue till March 7.

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