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Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: After registering a thumping victory in recently concluded Bijepur bypoll, speculations are rife that BJD's Rita Sahu might end up in Naveen Patnaik's team of ministers for her record-breaking win.

Sahu, who secured a landslide victory in the by-election to Bijepur Assembly constituency in Bargarh district by garnering a whopping 1,35,957 votes, is touted to be a claimant to the sole vacant ministerial berth.

Sahu may be included in the council of ministers in a bid to suppress resentment among Bijepur residents after CM Naveen vacated the Bijepur seat earlier this year.

Sahu won the 2018 bypoll with a margin of 42,000 votes and during 2019 general polls, she made way for Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to contest from the seat.

“I have no wish to get a ministerial post. Whatever party supremo decides, I will accept it,” said Sahu who defeated her nearest BJP rival Sanat Kumar Gartia by a record margin of 97,990 votes.

While Congress candidate Dilip Kumar Panda got 5,873 votes, a total of 1982 votes were recorded as NOTA (none of the above).

“Chief Minister will decide who will be given ministerial berth,” School and Mass Education Minister, Samir Ranjan Dash said.

According to sources, senior party leaders including Sushant Singh, Pranab Prakash Das, Prafulla Mallick and Sanjay Das Burma who played an instrumental role in BJD’s victory in Bijepur are also likely to get rewarded.

“The process for rewarding all those who worked for the party including leaders and workers has already started,” said senior journalist, Prasanna Mohanty.

Speaking about the possibility of reward for party leaders, BJD State vice-president, Debi Prasad Mishra said, “Those who worked hard were appreciated by the party and further decision will be taken later.”

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