Rita Sahu, the BJD candidate for Bijepur bypoll, has been the cynosure of all eyes in the political circles in the state from the day she joined the party. The bypoll to the seat was necessitated after the untimely demise of three-time Congress MLA from Bijepur, Subal Sahu. Being the wife of Sahu was never as much a responsibility for Rita as the new assignment of being the BJD’s candidate for the seat. In a first one to one conversation with Pradeep Singh, Rita Sahu, speaks with confidence about winning the elections and also shares her hopes and aspirations for people of the constituency, after entering into the political arena.
Without any experience in politics, how will you tackle the growing strength of BJP that won six out of the seven Zilla Parishad seats in the last panchayat election in the region?
When people trust and have faith in you, you can achieve any milestone. The confidence that the people of Bijepur have shown in me is enough for me to tackle whatsoever comes in way of development of Bijepur. Zilla Parishad election can’t be compared with the assembly election, both are different. We will definitely win the by-election.
What will be your winning strategy for the bypoll when a faction of the BJD is against your candidature?
Reaching out to people and understanding their issues, is what I believe, are two important factors. I have learned this from my husband who was more of a people’s man than a legislator. He was not loved by people because he was an MLA, it was his down to earth attitude and zeal to work for them that made him so adorable. It’s difficult to fill the vacuum his death created but I will try my best to work for the people till my last breath.
We have support of all, there are no differences; all are working as per the pro-people ideology of the party.
After you joined the BJD, a series of projects were announced for the region. Why such things were not seen in the last 14-15 years?
As you might be aware, my husband was called a farmer’s leader. During his tenure, he did all that was important for the farmers and development of the region. If no developmental works would have taken place in the region, he wouldn’t have won three consecutive terms? We now want to fulfill his dream of all-round development of Bijepur.
Your husband belonged to the Congress and you chose the BJD. Any specific reason?
I don’t want to elaborate on it. But the Congress kept avoiding us till very late. Even during my husband’s tenure, he was kept hanging till the last moment to be given a ticket. This was one major reason but it was also important for me to join the BJD because, I am inspired by the work being done by the BJD under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik.
Former Bijepur MLA Ashok Panigrahi had alleged that you were being lured to join the BJD with some monetary assistance. What’s the truth?
Those who know us will never make such allegations. I will not contest the election, if one can prove the allegations. It’s obvious in politics that such frivolous allegations are made against those who work for the people, but Bijepur ‘basi’ know what our family is and the truth will prevail on February 28.
Congress or BJP – Who do you think will be your main competitor in the bypoll?
I am not brooding over all those things. When people love you so much, you can’t be worried of anything. People are with us and I know we will win. Moreover, I have no time to think of anything except the people of my constituency. The unexpected demise of my husband has put me in a tough situation. I now need to take care of the bigger family he had been taking care of. Even though time is less, I am trying my best to reach out to my constituents ensuring them that I am with them.