Pradeep Pattanayak

Hundreds of supporters of BJP leader Himanshu Sekhar Sahu, a ticket aspirant for the Dharmasala Assembly seat, took out a bike rally on Tuesday and staged a demonstration in front of the party office in Bhubaneswar, protesting against the party nominating Smrutirekha Pahi for the same seat. 

The party had announced the names of 112 candidates on April 12. For the Dharmasala seat, the party has nominated Smrutirekha.

Immediately after the party announced her name, the supporters of Himanshu, who had been lobbying for a ticket for the same seat, staged a sit-in at the state party office in Bhubaneswar. They demanded the cancellation of Smrutirekha’s ticket.

They camped at the party office for two days and they agreed to return only after the party functionaries promised them to look into their demand. 

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Tuesday’s rally by Himanshu is viewed as retaliation to the power show demonstrated by Smrutirekha on April 6. 

“Eight days ago, the state BJP president Manmohan Samal assured us that he would take a decision within two days. Today we took out a peaceful rally. We demand the ticket for Himanshu bhai,” said a supporter. 

When contacted, Smrutirekha said, “I have respect for Himanshu bhai. I want they should come and we will work together. I don’t want to comment on the decision of the central and state leaders.”

After quitting BJD, Himanshu joined the BJP in December 2023. Prior to joining politics, he was involved in social activities. Similarly, Smrutirekha Pahi had unsuccessfully contested on a Congress ticket in 2019. After two years, she switched over to the BJP and has since been involving herself in party activities.

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