Himansu Shekhar Rout

Senior and efficient leaders of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) continue to desert the party one after the other in Cuttack. If the trend persists, then many believe that the ruling party will be bereft of good leaders ahead of the polls. This has indeed left the BJD leadership scratching its head.
Just days after actor, Arindam Roy, who is the brother-in-law of BJD's organizational secretary, Pranab Prakash Das, abandoned the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), six-time MP Bhartruhari Mahtab quit the party.

Mahtab, who is one of the founding members of the BJD, spewed venom at the ruling party while announcing his resignation at a presser on Friday.

In his observation, he said that the party is not treading on the path it set out to.  “I had pointed out several times in the past about how the party was run and managed. I wanted to rectify, but my efforts went in vain,” he rued. 

However, BJD’s Cuttack unit president and Rajya Sabha member, Debasish Samantaray refuted Mahtab’s allegations. 

Launching his counter-offensive on Mahtab, Samantaray said, “When the MP sensed that he would not get a ticket this time, he left the party.”

Throwing the gauntlet at Mahtab, Samantaray said that the MP should prove his popularity by winning the election.

Samantaray said, "If the MP calls himself a founding member, will he leave the party like this? The party was suffering because of his declining popularity.”
On the other hand, the BJP and Congress asserted that the BJD fort has collapsed in Cuttack. 

Veteran BJP leader, Samir Dey said, "If someone accepts our leadership, where is the problem to induct him. People have decided that the BJP will be voted to power this time. The BJD is worried about whether they will exist or not. Hence, they are taking help of other parties.”    

Congress MLA Mohammed Moquim said, "The BJD is no longer the people’s party. Leaders having a conscience and scruples will leave the party. The party is collapsing like a pack of cards. Congress is trying to bolster its strength.” 

With leaders continuously leaving the BJD, Cuttack is allegedly facing a leadership crisis. Political observers say the party is going to lack typical ‘Cuttakian’ leaders at the helm of the organizational affairs. 

BJD strongman, Subash Singh is busy as the mayor of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) while the district unit chief, Samantaray has been sent to the Upper House of the Parliament. 

Speculation was rife a few days ago that the ruling party was mulling Santrupt Mishra, who came from the corporate world and joined the BJD, as the prospective Lok Sabha candidate from Cuttack. The party is also worried about the Cuttack-Barabati Assembly seat which was won by the Congress in the 2019 polls. 

Who will be the perfect candidate for the BJD in this seat? The name of Mayor Subash Singh is doing the rounds for this Assembly segment. In that case, who will be handed over the mayorship?    

Political observer Satya Ray said, "After his (Mahtab) resignation, the party will definitely suffer a setback. Who will be given a party ticket for an important and prestigious LS seat like Cuttack? A new person may not be acceptable to the people.”  

On the other hand, the BJP has stepped up its brainstorming for the Cuttack Lok Sabha seat. The name of Doctor Purnachandra Mohapatra is doing rounds. If Mahtab joins the BJP, he might be in the ticket race for the LS seat.  Sources said the BJP may consider Arindam Roy as the candidate for the Cuttack-Barabati Assembly seat.

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