Odisha 2019 polls: BJD, BJP, Congress to consider early distribution of tickets

Bhubaneswar: Nearly a fortnight after Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) President Niranjan Patnaik announced to prepone the distribution of tickets for 2019 general elections, BJD Supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stated that his party is adopting similar measures and seriously considering early selection of party candidates for the elections due next year.

BJD MLAs have been visiting Naveen Niwas as the Chief Minister is personally taking stock of the work done by them in their constituencies and allotting new tasks to them. It is speculated that Naveen would select MLA and MP candidates who will represent the party in the upcoming 2019 polls after completion of the review.

The Chief Minister has made it clear that his party is planning to prepone the distribution of tickets and a decision in this regard would be finalised soon.

“I will look seriously into the matter and make a decision within the party soon,” said Naveen.

However, issues such as infighting within the party and link of BJD leaders in various corruption cases including chit fund scam are likely to pose a major challenge for the party.

It is also speculated that the leaders who will be denied tickets may join the rival parties and harm the BJD. While BJD was able to gain success by introduction of new faces in last elections, it is doubtful that the party may muster courage to do the same this time.

Patnaik’s statement assumes significance as the OPCC and top leaders of BJP have made it clear that they are working towards early finalisation of their candidates for the polls due next year.

OPCC Chief Niranjan Patnaik has been holding meetings with legislature party members, youth, women and student wings of the party along with discussions with representatives of the party at district level to strengthen the party’s stature before the 2019 polls. He had earlier announced that at least 50 percent candidate selection for the polls is likely to be completed by August this year.

“We will declare the names of at least 50 percent candidates six months prior to the elections. If their work is not satisfactory within three months we can make changes. If any secular party is eager to support us we can hold discussions with them,” said Niranjan.

To counter both BJD and Congress, the BJP is also preparing its strategy to prepone the distribution of tickets. The party is in full gear to identify candidates and strengthen them at the constituency level.

“BJP will also decide upon its strategy from the grassroots level and announce list of suitable candidates much before the elections. The party’s organisation at various places has already started working towards it,” said BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit.