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Mrunal Manmay Dash

With the publishing of the gazette notification by the Odisha government to reserve the Mayoral seats in Berhampur and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporations for women candidates, speculations are rife over the probable women contenders in three major political parties, BJD, BJP and Congress.

It is worthwhile to mention here that the Odisha Housing and Urban Development Department issued a gazette notification proposing reservation of Mayor for all the three Municipal Corporations, the elections for which will be held after the Panchayat Polls in February.

As per the gazette notification, the Mayor’s office in Berhampur and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporations will be reserved for women candidates. However, the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) will have an un-reserved Mayor office.

While it is still 15 days before the law could be enacted, and the department has sought opinions and grievances, if any, the rumour mills are already abuzz with the possible candidates for the race.

If all goes by the plan, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) will see its first ever woman Mayor. Names like former Corporator and the daughter of politician Damodar Rout, Pritinanda Rout, OTDC Chairperson, Srimayee Mishra, former Women’s Commissioner Chairperson, Lopamudra Baxipatra and transgender leader Meera Parida, are said to be the top contenders for the coveted post from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

BJD MLA, Sushant Rout said, “BJD has always put women at the forefront, as a result of which Bhubaneswar is going to see a woman Mayor for the first time.”

Similarly, from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the names of present State General Secretary, Lekhashree Samantsinghar and actress and party Executive Body member Anu Choudhury have cropped up as the expected candidates for the BMC Mayor’s post.

Babu Singh, BJP Bhubaneswar District president said, “Whoever stands as Mayor will go to the public with the issue of the State government’s failure in providing safety to women.”

As far as the Congress party is concerned, Rashmi Mohapatra is said to be the favojurite for the race to the Mayoral office in Bhubaneswar.

Speaking to the reporters, veteran Congress leader and MLA, Suresh Routray said, “The Congress has 11 women candidates contending for the Mayor’s office in Bhubaneswar.”

For the Brahmapur Municipal Corporation, Sanghamitra Dalei, Mamata Bisoi, K Madhavi are the prominent names from BJD. Babita Patra is said to be the number one contender from BJP.

However, some male candidates earlier in the fray for the Mayor’s office seem to have been disheartened by the decision.

Speaking to the reporters, Nabakishore Behera, former Corporator in Bhubaneswar said, “Though we had hoped to contest for the Mayor’s post, if the party has made a decision to put a woman on the chair, then so be it. We will accept all the decisions taken by Supremo Naveen Patnaik.”

Similarly, Subas Maharana, a BJD leader from Berhampur said, “If you have worked for long for a certain position and then got sidelined, it is definitely disheartening. Bur we have to respect the decision made by the party.”

The Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) has an unreserved Mayor’s office. Arindam Ray and Ranjan Biswal are the two prominent candidates from which the BJD might chose one to contest for the office.

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