Himansu Shekhar Rout

With General Elections just a few months away, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha is reportedly facing the problem of plenty due increasing number of ticket aspirants for Assembly segments. 

While ticket aspirants are engaging in shows of strength by organising rallies, the party is busy embracing leaders from other parties, thus triggering resentment among long-serving party leaders. To add to the woes, party workers and frontline leaders are opposing the leadership of incumbent MLAs in some places. 

Though speculation is rife about the BJD giving opportunities to some new faces for the upcoming elections, some leaders have started claiming with confidence that they will get tickets. 

Here is an example. Vice president of the Biju Mahila Janata Dal, Basanti Mohapatra organised a rally in Khordha town which was no less than an election rally. She even claimed to get the ticket this time. For the last two years, she has been taking part in various party programmes by sidelining MLA Jitu Mitra. 

Basanti Mohapatra said, "I am fully confident that the party’s decision will come in my favour.  All know who is working here. Except me, nobody is working.”  

Take a look at the Balikuda-Erasama constituency in Jagatsinhgpur where youth leader Sanjib Biswal, a ticket aspirant, organised a power show on the plea of a get-together against MLA Ragunandan Das.  

Biswal even spoke openly against the MLA and asserted that he would win the poll by a huge margin if he is given a ticket. He openly admitted, “There is discontent for various reasons. I have with me about 60 to 70 sarpanches and ex-sarpanches. I am hopeful of a party ticket.” 

On the other hand, MLA Raghunandan Das who has a number of allegations against him, dismissed such claims and said that he would be serving the people. The MLA said that nobody believes in the allegations brought against him.

In western Odisha, youth BJD leader and block vice chairperson of Birmaharajpur, Narayana Luha has been making a show of his strength with his army of supporters against Birmaharajpur MLA Padmanabh Behera. Naryana Luha said, "Over 15000 people have supported me at this rally. Whatever decision is taken in the future will be good for me.”  

On the other hand, Padmanabh has been lobbying for a BJD ticket for his son. 

Moreover, the leaders imported from other parties are also irking the existing leaders. For instance, in Rajnagar, discontent among long-serving party workers, leaders, and supporters of MLA Dhruba Sahoo is brewing over the entry of Congress leader Anshuman Mohanty. 

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BJD worker Maheswar Sethi of Rajnagar said, “At a closed-door meeting, some party workers opposed the leadership of Anshuman Mohanty and even warned to gherao Naveen Niwas. Long-serving BJD leaders are opposing the joining of other party leaders. The fire of discontent is simmering and only time will tell its consequences.”

Similarly, BJD workers in Angul refuse to accept the induction of Congress leader Biplab Jena. However, MLA Nrushingha Sahu said that the party's top leadership will decide rehabilitation of leaders and manage the disgruntled ones in time. 

Manoranjan Tripathy, a BJD worker of Angul said, "Many long-serving party workers have been neglected. The new leaders will show their power now.”

The BJD has already started an exercise to placate the disgruntled leaders like Prasanna Patasani, Priyadarshi Mishra, Ramesh Chyau Pattanayak, Pradeep Majhi, Jhina Hikaka and Rabi Pradhan.