Vikash Sharma

After bringing a candidate from Jajpur to Sambalpur to contest the Lok Sabha seat, the BJD seems to have roped in another candidate who is allegedly reluctant to contest from the Assembly seat. We are talking about BJD heavyweight Prasanna Acharya whose name was announced by the party as its candidate for Sambalpur Assembly seat.

A day after the announcement of the candidate list, Acharya reportedly turned up at Naveen Niwas and held talks with the party supremo. It is learnt that the senior leader was keen to contest from Rairakhol seat. Despite being a senior leader and the party's 'crisis manager', he hasn't been allotted a particular constituency.

In 2009, he was fielded from Rairakhol. Similarly, he was nominated for Bijepur Assembly seat and Bargarh Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and 2019 respectively. And now he has been picked for Sambalpur Assembly seat.

Under such circumstances, a question is being asked as to why BJD keeps changing his constituency. Acharya has now been pitted against BJP heavyweight and Leader of Opposition (LoP) Jayanarayan Mishra. It is speculated that Acharya was more keen to contest from Rairakhol Assembly seat.

As the dominance of Rairakhol MLA Rohit Pujari suffered a seat back in the party due to being sidelined and losing his ministerial berth, there were speculations that Pujari might not be renominated. Hence, Acharya had already started spadework in Rairakhol for the last few years. However, proving all speculations wrong, BJD has repeated Pujari from Rairakhol for the coming polls.

Political experts say that BJD might have to pay a heavy price for its importing a leader when there were several aspirants for the Sambalpur Assembly segment.

“Rohit Pujari was removed from cabinet and questions were raised on his capabilities. Prasanna Acharya should have been given a ticket from Rairakhol if he was interested for the seat. What the party has done will certainly aggravate the infighting, “said expert Hemant Mohapatra.

Meanwhile, the supporters of former MLA Raseswari Panigrahi congregated at her residence today. They demanded a change of candidate for Sambalpur Assembly seat, throwing their weight behind Panigrahi for the seat. Under such circumstances, it remains to be seen whether Acharya will get support from Panigrahi and Sidhart Das factions or the infighting and discontent within BJD will simmer further.

Though Acharya could not be contacted, Panigrahi said that everybody will abide by the decision of BJD supremo. “Who is keen and who is not keen is secondary. The CM has taken a decision after thinking a lot. Hence, I have nothing to say,” said Panigrahi.

Rohit Pujari, on the other hand, said that there is no resentment over ticket distribution.

“During elections, a lot of rumours are heard and it has no sense. We will fight under the leadership of Prasanna Acharya and Raseswari Panigrahi. The candidates selected by CM will win,” said Pujari.

BJP leader Jayanarayan Mishra said, "The selection of Acharya reflects BJD's hatred towards Sambalpur as it is fielding outsiders here, said Mishra. “Acharya is marked by an anti-Sambalpur feeling. People know him for several bad reasons like speaking about dividing Sambalpur into four parts and putting hurdles in the development of the district,” alleged Mishra.

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