Vikash Sharma

The ruling BJD this time has opted for a new experiment by swapping the home constituencies of several leaders and fielding them in a new constituency ahead of the 2024 elections.

The BJD has swapped the constituencies of Sanjay Das Burma and Uma Samantaray in Brahmagiri and Satyabadi. Similarly, the party has roped in Bhadrak MLA Sanjib Mallick for the Bhandaripokhari Assembly seat. Bhandaripokhari MLA Prafulla Samal will contest the polls from the Bhadrak Assembly constituency.

Not only these four Assembly segments, but the BJD has fielded Prakash Behera, who holds sway in Salipur, in the Barabati-Cuttack Assembly seat.

Under such circumstances, questions remain whether the strategy of the BJD to swap constituencies of its leaders will work or it will boomerang?

Such questions assume significance as there is discontent among party workers who are not able to accept leaders from outside their constituencies. In Salipur, the supporters of Prakash Behera said that they would have joined the BJD if the party had fielded him from his own constituency instead of the Barabati-Cuttack Seat.

The supporters of BJD leaders- Uma Samantaray and Sanjay Das Burma are also not able to digest the change. The 'Uma army' is not able to accept Sanjay, who has been asked to contest from the Satyabadi seat instead of his own Brahmagiri constituency this time. It is also being said that Sanjay has been fielded from the Satyabadi seat fearing defeat in Bramhagiri.

On the other hand, Uma Samantaray is also allegedly not getting adequate cooperation from Sanjay's supporters.

Bihari Biswal, a supporter of Uma said, “Satyabadi is crying for Uma Samantaray. Due to VK Pandian and Bobby Das, Sanjay has been roped in for Satyabadi fearing defeat in Bramhagiri.”

“There is no such thing as personal votes. All votes belong to Naveen Patnaik and all the workers are united and getting state-level leadership,” said Suresh Sahu, a supporter of Sanjay Das Burma.

A similar situation also prevails in Bhadrak. The BJD has nominated Bhadrak MLA Sanjib Mallick for the Bhandaripokhari Assembly seat. Bhandaripokhari MLA Prafulla Samal will contest the polls this time from the Bhadrak Assembly constituency. Speculation is rife that old groups of the party are now opposing the new leaders.

Though one group has got the chairperson of Bhadrak Municipality, Gulmaki Dalwazi Habib to join the party, the other group headed by Asit Patnaik, son of former MLA Jugal Kishore, is opposing Prafulla Samal. Speculation is rife that Asit might contest against Prafulla as an independent candidate or may become a Congress candidate after joining the party.

“BJD has done injustice to him in Bhadrak by not giving a ticket. We have taken a pledge to strongly oppose the decision,” said Bharat Tripathy, a supporter of Asit Patnaik.

Things are also no different in Kendrapara. BJD workers are not willing to accept Ganeswar Behera and Anshuman Mohanty. Though Mohanty was keen to contest from Rajnagar as MLA candidate, BJD fielded him for the Kendrapra Lok Sabha seat. Also, there are differences between the factions led by Anshuman and Dhruba Sahu in Rajnagar.

“We will not vote for a leader against whom we have fought for the last 30 years. We will not vote for him as we have a lot of leaders here,” said a BJD worker in Kendrapara.

The BJD leaders have admitted the ongoing resentment. However, they say that everything will be managed.

“There is some resentment and all of them belong to the party and it is our internal affair. Everything will be sorted out,” said Culture Minister, Aswini Patra.

(By OdishaTV Bureau)