Himansu Shekhar Rout

After the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) repeated MLA Rajendra Dholakia as its candidate in the Nuapada Assembly seat, there is a simmering discontent among other ticket aspirants within the party. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have not yet come out with their nominees for the 2024 elections. But the contest is likely to be tough for three parties, sources said.  

Though the BJD has again reposed faith in the leadership of Dholakia, how the party will manage the disappointed aspirants remains to be seen.

The Nuapada Assembly seat comprising Khariar Road, Nupada, and Komna blocks is under the Kalahandi Parliamentary segment. This seat, once a fort of former minister Ghasiram Majhi, was represented by BJP leader Basant Panda in 2000 and later by Rajendra Dholakia, who was elected from the seat thrice – as an independent in 2004 and twice on a BJD ticket (2009 & 2019).

However, this time around, it remains to be seen if other BJD leaders like Bhanu Pratap Singh and Saroj Kumar Sahoo, who were in the ticket race, will accept Dholakia or not.

Dholakia, after joining the BJD was elected from the Assembly segment in 2009 and 2019. It is said that he has a good clout in the constituency.  However, he was trounced by BJP leader Basant Panda in 2014 by a margin of 10,000 votes. 

BJD leader Rajendra Dholakia said, "Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reposed faith in my leadership and gave me the ticket. This is for the fourth time I am seeking election from the seat.”

BJD leader Bhanupratap Majhi said, "We were opposing the MLA because of his corruption. Since the Chief Minister has given the ticket to him, I will work for the party.” 

Another BJD leader, Saroj Sahoo said, "We will oppose the injustice and corruption, but will work as per the instruction of our leader Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.”

On the other hand, for the BJP, sitting Kalahandi MP, Basant Panda, Prasanna Padhi, Jadumani Panigrahi and Khariar Road NAC chairperson Sonia Jain are said to be the ticket hopefuls. Youth leader Rabi Mangaraj, who recently quit the Congress, is likely to contest as an Independent.  

This time, the contest is expected to be interesting if Odisha Congress chief, Sarat Pattanayak joins the fray from the seat.

BJP MP Basant Panda said, "As a BJP worker, I will accept the responsibility that will be assigned by the party’s parliamentary board.”
BJP leader Prasanna Padhi, who is a ticket hopeful said, "When I visit villages, people are enthusiastic. I will win if I am given the ticket.” 

BJP leader Jadumani Panigrahi said, "We are working for the party and people. If the party gives me a ticket, I will win.”

BJP leader Sonia Jain said, "If the party gives me a ticket, I have confidence that I will win. If any other leader is given a chance, we will extend full support.” 

Prior to 1980, the seat was with Congress. In the 2019 election, veteran Congress leader Ghasiram Majhi, who was in the second position by polling 47,317 votes, is also a ticket hopeful from Congress. 

Odisha Congress chief Sarat Pattanayak said, "The party high command will decide who will be given a ticket. If I am given the ticket, I will contest.”

Veteran Congress leader Ghasiram Majhi said, "I am cent per cent hopeful of my candidature this time. People want my leadership.”

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