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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: With 2019 elections just a few months away, it seems the ruling-BJD is into trouble with the growing infighting over tickets between aspirants and the present MLAs. This was evident when local leaders were objected to and group clashes erupted in differents blocks during the BJD padyatras that stretched from Puri to Mayurbhanj district.

At a few places, it was also seen that the aspirants led the padayatras in the absence of the local legislators. While many have pointed that people are unhappy with the activities of the ruling party which could prove lethal for them in the upcoming elections, BJD looks confident on the district observers who have been assigned the charges to look into the alleged infighting.

The internal strife became apparent at the two-month-long recent Jana Sampark padyatra of the BJD where clashes broke out in almost all places including Puri, Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Kendrapara after leaders were opposed in their own constituencies.

In Kakatpur, protests erupted against MLA Surendra Sethi during the padayatra in Zone 14 when senior BJD leader Surendra Nayak demanded not to give tickets to Sethi in the elections. In some places, the MLAs were shown black flags by the party members as a mark of protest.

Similar situation was also seen in Satyabadi area where former Mayor of Puri Jayant Sarangi was seen in a Jana Samabesh organized in protest of MLA Umakant Samantaray.

“The MLA is with no BJD member. If he has not been invited, it’s because of the growing protest against him,” Sarangi had said.

In Balasore's Basta, soon after MP Rabindra Jena's padyatra in Dagara panchayat got over, his rival group took out another padyatra in protest of him.

Morada constituency in Mayurbhanj district also witnessed infighting when BJD leader Krushna Das along with observer Ganesh Mohapatra took out the rally in the absence of MLA Prabin Bhanjadeo. Similarly, massive protests were seen in Patkura of Kendrapara district where people opposed and raised slogans against local MLA Vedprakash Agarwal.

While there were open clashes in many places, people in several areas blamed the coterie and the officer of 3rd floor as the mastermind behind the infighting.

However, BJD spokesperson Sameer Dash said, “There may be one or two incidents of group clash but that does not mean there is infighting in the party. The district and block observers have been apprised and they are dealing with the situation.”

In any election, there will be several ticket aspirants from a constituency, but the recent padyatra, Nuakhai Bhetghat and Mu Hero programmes certainly made the writing on the wall clear - even the supporters of local MLAs are divided. It remains to be seen whether the Opposition finds this lack of unity in BJD as an opportunity in favour of their party in the upcoming elections.

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