Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is reportedly busy drawing up a game plan for important Lok Sabha seats like Sambalpur and Sundargarh amid speculations are rife that the BJP is likely to field Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Sambalpur and former veteran leader Jual Oram in Sundargarh.

To counter the two BJP stalwarts, the BJD is reportedly planning to field its organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das in Sambalpur and hockey legend Dillip Tirkey in Sundargarh.  

As per reports, the ruling party has thrashed out strategies for the gambit at Naveen Niwas where Pranab Prakash Das along with party’s Sambalpur observer, legislators from Rairakhole, Deogarh and Chhendipada and some other frontline leaders discussed electoral issues and bottlenecks. 

In 2019, the BJP won the Sambalpur LS seat along with three Assembly segments - Rairakhole, Rengali and Deogarh. This time, the BJD is reportedly looking at a strong leader in this LS seat who can get the electoral breakthrough. Hence, the name of Das is on the forefront among possible candidates. 

On the other hand, the BJD is thinking of fielding Nalini Mohanty (who had unsuccessfully contested from Sambalpur LS seat in 2019) in Athamallik Assembly seat while veteran leader Prasanna Acharya is likely to field in Rairakhole Assembly seat. Incumbent MLA Rohit Pujari many not be repeated there.

However, BJD leader Rohit Pujari said that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will decide who will contest in Sambalpur. “We had discussions about poll preparedness. We are very careful about winning the LS seat and all the seven Assembly segments. We have confidence that we will all the seats,” he added. 

Veteran BJP leader Jayanarayan Mishra said, "Our position is very good in seven Assembly constituencies under Sambalpur. We won the Sambalpur seat by over 36,000 votes.”

Mishra asserted that the BJP would win the Sambalpur LS seat by a margin of 1 lakh votes.       

As for the Sundargarh LS seat, the BJD reportedly held discussions with senior party leaders like Mangala Kisan, Sarada Nayak and Dillip Tirkey. 

In 2019, the BJP won the Sundargarh LS seat along with Sundargarh Sadar, Talsara and Biramitrapur Assembly seats. Out of the seven Assembly seats under the Sundargarh LS segment, the BJD could win only Rourkela and Raghunathpalli Assembly seats.

As the BJP is likely to repeat Jual Oram, the BJD is looking for a good match for him. Last time, the BJD had fielded Sunita Biswal against Oram. She lost by a margin of nearly 2 lakh votes. This time, Dillip Tirkey may be considered against Oram.     

Raghunathpalli MLA Subrat Tarai said, "We had a review meeting on the district. We were instructed to go to the people and start the groundwork. We have done good work this time. The party will break its records this time.”

Senior Journalist Sandeep Sahu said, "BJP’s position is very strong in Sambalpur. If Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is fielded in Sambalpur, the party will leave no stone unturned to win the poll. If BJD fields Pranab Prakash Das against Pradhan, the party will try its best. Now, we can guess that BJP can repeat Jual Oram in Sundargarh.”

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