Pradeep Pattanayak

Is the local-level infighting the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is presently experiencing in poll-bound Padampur going to be the bane for the party? 

With the fraction between BJD’s candidate Barsha Singh Bariha and Mahendra Badhei, who aspired for a ticket, allegedly getting wider, the conch party is reportedly struggling to tackle the situation. 

Like in Dhamnagar bypoll where rebel candidate Rajendra Das proved to be detrimental to the conch party, the ongoing infighting in Padampur may cause extensive damage to the BJD. 

Before the announcement of Barsha’s name, Badhei had been lobbying for a ticket. The situation came to such a pass that a delegation of Binjhal Samaj visited Naveen Nivas and demanded that the ticket should be given to one of the deceased leader Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha’s family members. 

On the other hand, Badhei resigned as the additional district magistrate of Nuapada district and joined the BJD fold. But, no BJD leader was present when he joined. 

Fearing rebel, the party, in a damage control move, appointed Badhei as the spokesperson of the party. 

Since Badhei represents Kulata Samaj, he facilitated a meeting between the Chief Minister and district representatives. It has been a matter of discussion that Badhei will be in the driver’s seat in the coming days. This theory has caused a rift. 
However, Badhei had earlier termed it as baseless. 

“There is no question of proving strength. The BJD still remains united. Barsha Singh Bariha, selected by our CM, will win the election by a margin of thousands of votes,” Badhei had said. 

Barsha while addressing a meeting said, “You can come to me and discuss your problems. I will be with you. Shower your love on me as you would do on my father.”

At the same time, it is said that a cold war between Health Minister Naba Das and MLA Sushant Singh is presently going on. Similarly, a rift has also started between MLA Singh and Minister Rita Sahu. 

A theory has also been doing the rounds that MLA Singh’s relationship with MLA Snehangini Chhuria and MLA Debesh Acharya has gone sour.  

Meanwhile, the Opposition party is trying to cash in on the situation.
“Even the ruling party’s MLAs are telling us that you will come victorious this time as well. From this, it can well be imagined how the BJP will perform in the Padampur bypoll,” said BJP MLA Mohan Majhi.

Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said, “There are Mahendra Badhei group, Naba Das group and Sushant Singh group. This infighting has already ruined their party’s vote base. And the Congress will make most of the situation.”

In his reaction, Health Minister Naba Das said, “Opposition party is free to say anything. But, we have one leader and he is our Naveen Patnaik. I have no hostility towards anyone. We are discharging our duties assigned to us by the CM.”

(Reported by Dipak Sharma, Harihar Chand and Debasish Mohanty)