Vikash Sharma

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has set the stage after announcing dates for Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections in Odisha. This time, a lot of focus will be on new generation leaders, who are children of veteran leaders in the state.

Sons of several BJD ministers, MLAs and leaders are in the race for party tickets and are keen to try their luck. Such new generation leaders have already started work on strengthening organisation in their own constituencies. But the question remains how far people will accept such new generation leaders and how far they will be able to keep the legacy of their fathers intact in their constituencies?

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Arabinda Mohapatra, son of Bijoy Mohapatra, who is said to be a long-time bête noire of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) recently. Arabinda is said to be the frontrunner in the ongoing race, to get a ticket for the Patkura Assembly segment. He has already started campaigning and was also seen during the crucial meeting for the Kendrapara constituency held at Naveen Niwas on Monday. However, it remains to be seen how far the workers will accept Arabinda.

“The way the CM accepted me, he has not done this with anyone. He (CM) spoke with me thrice. I joined BJD as I needed a platform for the development of people in Patkura,” said Arabinda.

Similarly, Sunil Mohanty, son of former Odisha Assembly Speaker and a five-time MLA late Maheswar Mohanty, is holding the fort in Puri. Sunil is now on a mission to take back the assembly after BJP’s win in the last election. He was also present at Naveen Niwas during the meeting for the Puri Parliamentary constituency yesterday.

Though Sunil’s name is doing rounds for a party ticket, he refused to comment on the issue and said ‘Jai Jagannath’ when he was asked by the reporters.

A lot also rests on Biplap Patra, son of late Odisha Assembly Speaker and seven-time MLA, SN Patro. There is every possibility that BJD will field Biplap from the Digapahandi seat.

Swarup Deb, son of Minister, Usha Devi, is also said to be an aspirant from the Chikiti seat. He is keen to contest the polls citing the deteriorating health condition of his mother. Speculations are also rife that Nityananda Sahu’s son Anjan is said to be a frontrunner for the Balasore Basta seat. Nityananda has been MLA from the seat for 10 years.

“We will work as per the directions of CM Naveen Patnaik and contest the election if he wants,” said Anjan Sahu.

It is also said that MLA Anant Das’ son Abhijit will take on the baton in Bhogarai and BJP’s former MLA Jainarayan Mohanty’s son Divayakam Mohanty is also keen to contest the upcoming election.

“I am associated with people for long. I want to stay in Jaleswar and work here. Even if I don’t get a ticket, I will continue to work for the people and think of an alternative,” said Divyakam Mohanty.

Under such circumstances, how far the strategy of roping in the next generation will be acceptable by the people and workers, who have been working for respective parties for years? Whether giving tickets to the inexperienced new generation instead of the workers boomerang for the parties?

“People’s expectations will be high and how far the new generation adapt to the changing political situation in Odisha, remains to be seen. They can emerge as successful leaders if they are able to strike a balance,” said senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty.

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