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Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the polling date for the Odisha Urban elections in Odisha inches closer, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems to have found itself in a tight situation with rebel candidates throwing open challenge to the party leadership.

Experts say more than the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP), the BJD is troubled by the rebel candidates who are set to play spoilsport in the BJD’s plans for the elections by contesting independently.

Debasis Sit, a former Corporator under Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, is such a candidate who, after refused ticket from the local MLA to contest this year, has made his wife Sumita Sit to contest independently from Ward No 35.

He has raised questions on the ticket distribution process by the Bhubaneswar (Centre) MLA and BJD leader, Ananta Narayan Jena as well.

“I do not know why MLA Jena denied me the ticket. When I learnt that Jena was not going to give me a ticket, I decided to field my wife as the Corporator candidate independently,” said Sit.

However, Sit does not have any complaint about the party. As per his own admission, he wanted to teach the local leadership of the Conch party, including Jena, a lesson by contesting independently.

The list of rebel candidates does not end here. A similar kind of situation has arose in Ward-35 as well, where the wife of rebel BJD candidate Arjun Behera has stood as an independent candidate. The rebel faction of the BJD have also united in Ward-13 and decided to project Itishree Das as their Corporator candidate.

Speaking to reporters, Arjun Behera said, “I have made my own identity and no party has done that for me. The party might have taken disciplinary action against me, but they cannot wipe off my works out of the minds of my people.”

Not far away from Bhubaneswar, the Millenium city of Cuttack seems to have posed the same headache for the BJD where Corporator probable Kavita Khandoi was denied a BJD ticket from Ward-47.

“I was promised a ticket by the MLA. But I do not know what transpired in the end for which I was denied a ticket. I have the blessings of people with me. So I have decided to stand independently,” said Khandoi.

Pertinent to mention here that the BJD has tried its level best to pacify the rebels during the nomination process. Some agreed to the offers made by the party and kept quiet, while some others did not back out. The party even tried to crush the rebels with iron fist by suspending their membership, but still, there is a major chunk of rebels left who, as per the experts, could inflict substantial damage to the party.

Political analyst, Prasanna Mohanty said, “The MLAs have chosen the candidates as per their likings. And it would be safe to assume that the BJD has largely failed to pacify a majority of the rebels. This could reflect in the poll results on March 26.”

However, the BJD has rejected all these assumptions and reiterated that these rebels do not have the teeth to influence the voters against the party.

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