Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: After BJD President and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik vacated the Bijepur by retaining his home turf Hinjili Assembly Constituency, the bypoll for the seat now seems to be anybody’s game.

Speculations are now spooling over who will be the candidate of the ruling-Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for the Bijepur by-poll even though official dates are yet to be announced. Former Bijepur MLA Rita Sahu, who had won the bypoll for the seat in 2018 on BJD ticket following her husband & incumbent Congress MLA Subal Sahu's death, is likely to be BJD’s face this time as well.

It is most likely that BJD supremo might turn to Rita Sahu again given the fact that she was legislator from Bijepur only for a year. She has also evinced her interest to work towards fulfilling the dreams of her late husband Subal Sahu.

Not only Rita, heavyweight Subhash Chauhan, who had joined the BJD after quitting BJP ahead of the 2019 polls, is also one of the touted leaders for a ticket. Similarly, the name of senior party leader Prasanna Acharya is also doing rounds.

“I want development of Bijepur and will certainly abide by whatever role the party gives me,” said Rita Sahu.

The saffron party on the other hand seems confident after the superb performance in the recently-concluded elections. The party hopes to give BJD a strong fight in the Bijepur bypolls.

However, there has been a considerable jump in the number of aspirants within the BJP this time. Discussions are on about Ashok Panigrahi who had contested in 2018 bypolls; Sanat Gartia who came behind Naveen in the just-concluded polls by bagging over 53,000 votes and Pradip Purohit, who lost the Padampur seat.

“If the party reposes faith, I will certainly contest the polls,” said Gartia.

“I am getting phone calls, but I am not an aspirant for the Bijepur bypoll now,” said Pradip Purohit.

It remains to be seen whether Congress sticks to Ripunath Seth, who had bagged only 14,000 votes in the recently-concluded polls or the party fields a new face. “I tried to fight to my strength against Naveen Patnaik. I am hopeful that the party will consider my candidature,” said Seth.

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