Himansu Shekhar Rout

Odisha Congress arguably seems to be in a quandary over candidate selection for the Jatani Assembly seat as veteran leader and sitting MLA Suresh Routray and his nephew Sangram Routray are locked in a war of words. 

The Congress Bhawan in Bhubaneswar has been witnessing uproarious scenes for the past couple of days. As per reports, on Monday,

Suresh Routray’s elder son Siddharth Routray reached the Congress Bhawan along with BJP leader Santosh Jena to induct the latter into the party. Santosh, denied a ticket by the BJP, was reportedly aspiring for a Congress ticket from Jatani. Suresh Routray's nephew Sangram Routray is another ticket aspirant for the same seat. 

The joining ceremony organised for Santosh became chaotic and was later foiled when Siddharth and Sangram (cousins) came to a confrontation.

Sangram Routray shouted, "Many youths are with me. Their future is connected to us. His (his uncle Suresh Routray) sons were outside and have come to do politics now. If you have someone to add to the party, bring them after elections.”  

Interestingly on Tuesday, the president of the Jatani Nagar Congress, Ashok Mangaraj created a hue and cry at Congress Bhawan to oppose the candidature of Sangram Routray. 

It is said that Mangaraj did this at the tacit instruction from Suresh Routray. 

Mangaraj shouted slogans and appealed for a ticket, saying, "Suresh Routray has recommended my name at the top. The nephew was taking money from others and contesting against Suresh Routray.”   

Suresh Routray said, "I don’t know why he (his son Siddharth) brought someone to join the party. But I heard a person (referring to his nephew) threatened that he would not allow my entry and that of my sons in Jatani. I want to ask him if Jatani is his fiefdom.”

He also said that he would help the candidate selected by the AICC. 

In Jatani, the BJD has fielded Bibhuti Balabantray while the BJP has nominated Biswaranjan Badajena. 

Suresh Routray was elected from the seat in 1995 and 2000 while the BJD put a break in his winning streak in 2004 and held the seat till 2014. Again, the Congress got back the seat in 2019.   

While the Jatani MLA’s family is locked in a bitter dispute over ticket distribution, it surely seems not helping the Congress. 

Dulal Ranjan, a local resident said, "People are losing faith in the Congress because of such type of indiscipline. We want Congress to give a good and educated candidate for Jatani who can deliver.”

  • Reported by:
  • JAGDISH DAS
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