Pradeep Pattanayak

The Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) suspense over distribution of tickets for the upcoming ULB polls kept till the last day of filing of nominations is feared to prove counterproductive for the party. 

It is discussed in the political corridors that the BJD kept the Ward-wise list of candidates under the hat till the last moment in a bid to avoid defections. Though the party has succeeded in its objective to some extent, the gambit has also given rise to dissidents who are going to emerge as the major cause of headache in the coming days. 

Having been betrayed by the party at the last moment, scores of aspiring candidates have filed nomination as independent candidates. 

For example, Sunita Paikray has filed her nomination from Ward no-39 in Bhubaneswar. She is contesting on a BJD ticket. From the same ward, BJD dissident Ritika Balabantaray is contesting the election as an independent candidate.

The same situation has emerged in Ward no-37. While former corporator Nabakishore Behera’s wife is in the fray on a BJD ticket, BJP turncoat Arjuna Behera, who had joined BJD during the last general elections, has fielded his wife as an independent candidate. 

The list of BJD’s rebel candidates doesn’t end here. After denied party tickets, former corporator Sheikh Nizamuddin and Swarnaprabha Ray are contesting as independent candidates from Ward no 29 and 7, respectively. 

“I have served people selflessly. These are the people who forced me to contest the election,” said Sheikh Nizamuddin. 

Ritika Balabantaray said she had been waiting for a party ticket till the last moment. “But it doesn’t matter. People are with me,” she added.

“I know people will exercise their franchise keeping the candidate in mind, not party,” observed Swarnaprabha Ray. 

The conch party is faced with the same situation in Khordha municipality as well. While the party has fielded Kanakalata Mohanty as its Chairman candidate, dissatisfied over being neglected, the party’s Khordha town president Md. Arif is fielding his wife Sabnam Bibi as a rebel candidate. 

The infighting in party is out in open in Cuttack too. Registering his dissatisfaction over having been denied party ticket, Kedar Prusty of Ward no-27 had resigned from the party and joined Congress last night. Prusty filed his nomination on Monday.   

Spewing venom at the party, Prusty said he had been with the BJD since his student days and that he had worked with even Biju Patnaik. “I am in the politics to serve people and I will continue to do so,” Prusty added. 

Similarly, after not getting a party ticket, Bikash Ranjan Behera of Ward no 27 has filed his nomination as an independent candidate. 

Meanwhile, the Congress has taken aim at the BJD for the latter’s poll strategy. “We had been observing that the BJD is neglecting those leaders who have been working dedicatedly for the people. When they sought refuge, we accepted them. After all, it should be our duty to make their service available to people,” said Congress legislator Mohammad Moquim . 

However, the BJD seems to be in a damage control mood, blaming shortage of time for the entire turn of events. 

“We had very little time in hand. So after series of brainstorming, we have fielded our candidates. The rebel candidates won’t cause any trouble to us,” said BLD MLA Pramila Mallick.