Elections 2019: Fate of chit fund scam-tainted BJD leaders hangs in balance

While several BJD leaders have been implicated in the chit fund scam, especially some heavyweights, finding their alternatives has now become a herculean task for party supremo Naveen Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: While discontentment over ticket distribution continues in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), ‘rehabilitation’ or finding an alternative to the party leaders allegedly involved in the chit fund scam in Odisha is likely to be a herculean task for the regional party ahead of the 2019 polls.

Eyes are now on the three BJD leaders- MLA Prabhat Tripathy, Prabhat Biswal and MP Rama Chandra Hansdah, who were earlier arrested by CBI and are on bail now.

If reports are to be believed, Prabhat Tripathy has already announced his son Debi Ranjan as the next candidate from Banki Assembly seat and a video clip of the same is reportedly doing rounds on social media. However, the BJD is yet to take any decision in this regard.

Similarly, BJD is reportedly considering nominating Cuttack-Choudwar MLA Prabhat Biswal’s son, Souvik Biswal from the Assembly segment. On the other hand, Mauyurbhanj MP Rama Chandra Hansdah has said that he would not be contesting in the upcoming elections as the party is also yet to revoke his expulsion order.

Speculations are rife that the BJD may field wife of Balasore MP Rabindra Jena as the parliamentarian was interrogated by the CBI for his alleged links in chit fund scam. However, MLA Pranab Balabantaray (who was earlier interrogated by CBI for the same) and legislators- Arun Sahoo, Atanu Sabyasachi and Sanjay Das Burma (who were issued notices by the investigative agency), are likely to get party ticket for the polls.

“We have already been informed by the party that we would not be contesting in the 2019 polls,” said Rama Chandra Hansdah when asked about his future course of action.

The BJD has reportedly changed its candidate selection strategy after five MLAs and three MPs along with several other leaders quit the party following declaration of candidates for the first and second phase polls. On the other hand, a rift has surfaced between Tirtol MLA Rajshree Mallick and senior BJD leader Bishnu Das.

“I have done a lot of work for people of my constituency and want to contest again,” said Rajshree, adding that Bishnu Das should first win in his constituency and then think of contesting from other constituencies.

Meanwhile, BJD spokesperson Debi Prasad Mishra said that a lot of things are being taken into consideration while selection of candidates and announcement of tickets will be done timely.