Pradeep Pattanayak

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has dropped as many as 10 heavyweight leaders and, instead, fielded their wives for the upcoming General Elections triggering speculations of encouraging dynasty politics and rehabilitating the wives of the leaders in the name of women empowerment. 

The conch party has so far announced candidates for 126 Assembly seats. Of them, 28 are women, and, 10 of them are the wives of party heavyweights.  

These women candidates include Subasini Jena, wife of former MP Rabindra Jena, Gitanjali Routray, wife of MLA Sambit Routray; Sanjukta Singh, wife of Rajanikant Singh; Pritilata Kanungo, wife of MLA Rajkishore Das; Anusuya Patra, wife of Ganeswar Patra; Indira Nanda, wife of Rabi Nanda; Sanghamitra Swain, wife of MLA Purnachandra Swain; Lalita Nayak, wife of Dushmant Nayak; Koushalya Padhani, wife of Sadashiva Padhani and Nabina Nayak, wife of Subash Gond. These women leaders have been fielded from Basta, Paradip, Angul, Morada, Badasahi, Jeypore, Sorada, Bhawanipatna, Nabarangpur and Umerkote seats respectively.

Of these women candidates, some including Geetanjali Routray, Sanjukta Singh, Anusuya Patra and Koushalya Padhani are greenhorns. Hence, their winnability in the elections is being questioned. 

“The benefits of various schemes have reached the people. So people are responding well and are expressing their desire to vote for BJD” said Nabina Nayak. 

“I have been standing with the people through their thick and thin for the last five years.  As my husband is helping me, I am not feeling any hardship,” said Koushalya Padhani. 

If the opinions of political analysts are anything to go by, then it could be a strategy of the BJD to manage ground-level dissension among sitting legislators over ticket distribution. It is also being discussed that it is the strategy of the party to woo women voters. 

Also Read: BJD in turmoil as revolts crop up after sitting MLAs denied tickets

If the party is walking the talk of its electoral pledge of women empowerment, questions are being asked as to why only wives of political leaders and why not new faces. 

“Since the party’s confidence in some of its leaders is dwindling, it is nominating their wives. It isn’t sending out a message that the party is laying emphasis on women empowerment. If it had been the reason, many eligible women would have got their chances,” said senior journalist, Prasanna Mohanty.