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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: BJD has played its ace card well. The party has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to contest from Western Odisha, and a ‘serious’ looking CM readily said he is considering the proposal ‘very seriously’.

BJD made this announcement a grandstanding event today and the Naveen Niwas was chock-a-block with party workers. BJD supremo and CM Naveen Patnaik first greeted party workers with ‘Juhar’ and then made the big statement to media. Soon after ‘Naveen Patnaik zindabad’ rented the air.

“Women, farmers, party leaders students and others from western Odisha have urged me to contest from western Odisha and I am considering it very seriously,” said Patnaik.

Significantly, Naveen has never contested from two places during his 19-year long stint as the Chief Minister. The urgency for Naveen to contest from western Odisha in the 2019 elections shows the party is not confident of its prospects in western Odisha, feel political observers.

Notably, BJD tasted a shocking defeat in western Odisha at the hands of BJP in the 2017 rural polls. Though BJD post co-opting late Subal Sahu’s widow Rita Sahu into BJD won the Bijepur by-election battle handsomely, the subtle difference now is it’s a general election. And electoral trend suggests that anti-incumbency factor manifests in a big way during general elections than by-elections, explained political observers.

BJD has been at the receiving ends in western Odisha for last four years over a host of issues ranging from farmer suicides, distress paddy sale, poor irrigation outreach and drinking water problem et al.

However, veteran BJD leader from western Odisha Prasanna Acharya, who flanked CM Patnaik during the major announcement ahead of the crucial polls, told media persons that, “Overwhelmed by the unanimous appeal from people across the cross-section, Patnaik made the announcement of considering to contest from western Odisha.”

Bolangir MP and party’s youth face in western Odisha Kalikesh Singh Deo said the BJD is united in western Odisha and its CM’s prerogative to select a seat.

Like every coin has two sides, political observers feel, Naveen’s plunging into the battlefield of western Odisha has its risks too. Opposition BJP and Congress could not only take a point blank target at the CM raking up the ills ailing western Odisha for so long but would also try to pin him down on why Patnaik chose to contest from western Odisha after 19 years?

Though there is a talk that CM Naveen Patnaik would be fielded by BJD on a safe seat, BJD, however, hopes to create a contagion-effect to harvest votes in western Odisha.

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