Rashmi Rekha Das

Even as a week has not lapsed since the death of Dhamnagar MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi, the ruling Biju Janata Dal and the Congress have chalked out strategies to win the by-polls which will be held for the vacant seat. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticized the state government’s hush-hush strategy to initiate the by-polls process for the vacant Dhamnagar constituency before the leader’s eleventh day death ritual although it claims to have prepared for the poll.

Meanwhile, political analysts opined that by-poll for Dhamnagar constituency is going to be an acid-test for all political parties before General Elections 2024.
According to sources, three major political parties, BJP, BJD and Congress have drafted blueprints to win in the by-elections.  

It is learnt that BJP national president JP Nadda is scheduled to pay a visit to Bishnu Sethi’s family at Dhamnagar during his two-day visit to Odisha . Besides, he will attend a joint conference at Janata Maidan in Bhubaneswar at 11 am on September 30. 

Along with Nadda, the conference will be attended by party’s National General Secretary BL Santosh and Odisha in-charge Sunil Bansal. The saffron party is expected to choose candidate for by-polls there.

The Congress has formed a three-member team comprising Jayadev Jena, Niranjan Patnaik and Prasad Harichandan. The trio will have a field visit to Dhamnagar and submit a report to Congress President about the candidate to be fielded for Dhamnagar by-polls. 

In the meantime, BJD seems to have full confidence to win the by-poll with majority. 

According to sources, Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Bishnu Sethi had defeated Biju Janata Dal candidate Rajendra Das by a margin of 4,625 votes in 2019 General Election. BJD had won all the Assembly seats in Bhadrak district except for Dhamnagar in 2019. During elections, clash erupted between two groups of BJD at Dhamnagar for which BJP got hold of the seat.

Political analyst Prasanna Mohanty said, “This might be last by-polls before 2024 General Elections.  That’s why all the political parties are trying their best to win it. The result of by-elections will show the actual strength of parties before General Elections.”

Rajkishore Das, BJD MLA, said, “The BJD is all prepared to fight the battle and win it.  Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s popularity will overshadow other parties’ chances of winning election there.”
Congress leader Sura Routray said, “Jayadev Jena, Niranjan Patnaik and Prasad harichandan have been assigned to choose a candidate for the seat. Besides, our president Sarat Patnaik has asked MLAs to campaign in panchayats so that Congress wins the by-poll.”

General Secretary of BJP Golak Mohapatra said, “By-elections will be held in six months. The state government should not be in hurry to hold election at a time when Sethi’s death rituals are yet to be finished. It is really shameful.”

Notably, Sethi breathed his last on September 19 while undergoing treatment at Bhubaneswar AIIMS for the last one month.