Himansu Shekhar Rout

An internecine war among the leaders and workers of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Bhubaneswar is reportedly headed for a flashpoint.

The party has announced its nominees for the Bhubaneswar-Ekamra and Bhubaneswar-North Assembly seats while its decision on the candidate for the Bhubaneswar Central seat is still hanging. 

Meanwhile, after being denied tickets, rebels have come out in the open and announced to fight polls as independents. Amid all this, party supremo and top leaders are scratching their heads on how to manage the rebels. 

As per reports, a faction of BJD leaders has been strongly opposing the incumbent MLA Ananta Narayan Jena in the Bhubaneswar Central segment. 

Two other ticket aspirants in the Constituency - Amaresh Jena and Rudra Samantaray – joined hands in their opposition against Jena. They are reportedly backed by some corporators too. 

Sensing trouble, the MLA made a show of strength at CM and party president Naveen Patnaik's residence, Naveen Niwas, though he tactically evaded commenting on the issue.

Amaresh Jena said, "The voice for a change should be taken into account before deciding the candidate.” 

MLA Ananta Jena was evasive saying, "People want the Chief Minister for the sixth time.”

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In the Bhubaneswar Ekamra seat, trouble reportedly mounted for the party’s nominee and incumbent MLA Ashok Panda. After being denied a ticket, corporator Biranchi Narayana Mahasupakar has announced that he would throw his hat into the ring as an Independent. 

Mahsupakar said that the poll results on June 4 will show who has the support of the people. "Injustice was done. Getting a ticket and fighting elections are not the same thing. I have not got the ticket, but will fight polls,” he said  

However, BJD’s MLA nominee Ashok Panda pooh-poohed the veiled challenge from the rebel.   

Panda said, "My aim is all-round development of Ekamra. I am not worried. I have faith in the people of Ekamra. I will definitely get their support.”

In the Bhubaneswar North constituency, former BJD MLA Priyadarshi Mishra has joined the BJP along with his supporters. His change of course is said to affect the poll prospects of BJD candidate and sitting MLA Sushant Rout.  He said, “Elections will be fought just like the past."

In the Jayadev Assembly seat, the BJD is left in the lurch after its MLA Arabinda Dhali joined the BJP and has also secured a ticket. The BJD has not yet announced a candidate against Dhali.     

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The Bhubaneswar was a safe zone for the ruling party in 2009, 2014 and 2019. If the rebels land in the opposition camps, they would play a key role in weakening the vote base of the BJD.

Senior Journalist Rabi Das said, "Some groups have been created by corporators. That is the fear of the BJD. If they divide votes, the BJP will have some electoral gains.”

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