Himansu Shekhar Rout

A political slugfest broke out between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha over a delay in the announcement of candidates for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. 

The ruling party took a swipe at the BJP, saying the latter is facing a crisis for candidates for the Assembly segments while the BJP retorted that it is none of the ruling party's business. 

The BJP also said that the BJD should announce its candidates for all the Assembly segments. Is the ruling party waiting for imported leaders, the saffron party questioned.  

Addressing a presser, BJD spokesperson Swayam Prakash Mahapatra said, "The BJP lacks leaders for all 147 Assembly seats, but it has been asserting to win 80 seats to form the government. In fact, the BJP is not finding leaders for 80 seats. That is why the party has not been able to announce candidates for the Assembly seats.”

The saffron launched a counter-offensive with Odisha BJP vice president, Golak Mohapatra saying, "The BJD should first announce the names of the candidates for 147 Assembly seats. Why the BJD is having a headache for our candidates. Is the ruling party waiting for imported leaders? That is why it is not announcing the candidates for the remaining 75 seats.”

The BJP leader also made it clear that the names of the BJP candidates have been cleared by the state unit and their names are usually announced by the party’s parliamentary board in New Delhi and it will be done at the right time.  

On the other hand, the Congress has not announced its candidates at all for any of the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats. The grand old party says it will announce the candidates soon.

Odisha Congress chief Sarat Pattanayak said, "The list of our candidates will be announced soon. The meetings of the screening committee and the Central Election Committee(CEC) discussed about the prospective candidates. I hope everything will be clear by the first week of April.”

AIIC president Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leaders from Odisha held discussions at the CEC meeting on Sunday. 

The BJP has announced candidates for all the 21 Lok Sabha seats while the BJD has announced only 15.  
Meanwhile, political observers questioned BJD’s wait-and-watch policy.

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Senior journalist, Sandeep Sahu said, "BJD’s organizational secretary himself asserted that they have 10,000 candidates. Why the BJD has not yet announced the candidates for six Lok Sabha seats and 75 Assembly seats? I don’t think the BJP, Congress and other parties lack candidates. I think they were waiting for more eligible candidates from other parties, leading to a delay in the announcement.”

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