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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: The Bharatiya Jatata Party (BJP) on Friday picked Ashrit Pattanayak as the party candidate for the upcoming by-election to Pipili assembly constituency in Puri district.

The BJP nominee had lost the 2019 poll by a margin of over 15,000 votes from his nearest BJD rival Pradeep Maharathy. Ashrit got 72,731 votes. In 2014 elections, Ashrit contested as an Independent and secured 18,000 votes only.

"I would like to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, State president Samir Mohanty, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and other party leaders for nominating me as the party candidate for the bypoll," Ashrit told OTV.

Asked about his winnability given the fact that Pipili is a stronghold of ruling BJD, he said the voters of Pipili and Delang will create history in coming days.

The ruling BJD and other parties are yet to announce candidates for the bypoll which is scheduled to be held on April 17. The BJD is likely to field either the wife or son of the veteran leader Pradeep Maharathy whose demise has necessitated the bypoll.

However, Pratap Keshari Dev, election observer of BJD for the Assembly Constituency, said that party supremo Naveen Patnaik will take the final decision on allotment of the ticket.

Speaking on candidate selection for the by-election, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee chief Niranjan Patnaik on Thursday said that Ajit Mangaraj, Purna Swain and Nishikant Mishra are front-runners for the seat. "One among them will be picked. We have submitted report to AICC and candidate will be finalised before March 30," said Patnaik.

As per the gazette notification issued by State Chief Electoral Officer, the voting will be conducted from 7 am to 6 pm on April 17. The counting of votes and declaration of results will be held on May 2.

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