Resentment brews among Congress workers over ticket distribution in Odisha

Bhubaneswar/Balasore/Jharsuguda/Jeypore: Following the announcement of candidates’ list for two Lok Sabha and 54 Assembly constituencies late on Friday, resentment is now brewing among Congress workers and supporters of several party leaders who have been denied a ticket.

Tension erupted at the Congress party headquarters in Bhubaneswar when supporters of Amir Mohammed ransacked property at Congress Bhawan opposing the party’s decision to field Rashmi Mohapatra from Ekamra-Bhubaneswar. They entered the party office and damaged computer and furniture.

A scuffle was reported between the supporter groups of Manoja Manjari Debi, who was fielded by Congress from Nilagiri constituency, and ticket aspirant Chittaranjan Sarangi. During a meeting attended by Manoja Manjari, the disgruntled group created a ruckus and did not allow her to leave.

Sources said Manjari, a member of the Nilagiri royal family was allowed to leave the spot after she raised slogans in favour of Sarangi. Irate over such humiliation, Manjari stated that she will lodge a complaint in connection with the incident before the Congress leadership.

Manoja Manjari yesterday had stated that Chittaranjan was supporting her candidature in the upcoming general elections. But today’s incident has brought the rift in Balasore unit of Congress to the fore.

Similarly, some Congress activists from Jharsuguda locked the district party office opposing the candidature of former bureaucrat Mahendra Nayak. Sources said the party activists threatened non-cooperation during the polls for fielding an outsider as Jharsuguda candidate neglecting the local leaders. The resentment in Congress become more conspicuous after former MLA Naba Das’ exit.

In Rourkela, Congress activists opposed the candidature of Muktikanta Biswal. The Congress workers opposed Biswal’s candidature at a meeting chaired by former president of district unit of Congress Biren Senapati.

In Sundergarh, the candidature of Amita Biswal has also been opposed. In Chitrakonda also, ticket aspirant Balaraju Kape has quit the party after denial of ticket. State Congress social media cell chief Abhisek Mahananda has also expressed displeasure over irregularities in ticket distribution.

Opposition chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati expressed displeasure over nomination of Saptagiri Ulaka as Congress candidate from Koraput Lok Sabha seat. The party activists wanted Prafulla Bhatra as candidate but he was denied a ticket following pressure from different quarters, alleged Bahinipati.

“The people of the district were expecting that Prafulla Bhatra would get a ticket. He is young and educated tribal leader and had been elected councillor thrice,” added Bahinipati.

Congress MLA Jacob Pradhan’s fate hangs in balance as the party is yet to announce candidate for G. Udayagiri Assembly constituency.

However, Congress has nominated several new faces in the candidates list announced in two phases for 61 assembly constituencies. Mahanadi Banchao Andolan chief Sudarsan Das was fielded from Jaleswar, Subhashri Panda, wife of arrested Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda from Ranpur and Sangram Mohanty from Sorada.

Congress so far has nominated eight women candidates while the party has entered into an understanding with CPI(Marxist) for the Chhatrapur Assembly seat in first phase, Boudh and Brajrajnagar Assembly seats, Aska Lok Sabha seats in the second phase, sources said adding that CPI(M) will contest from Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha and Bonai and Patnagarh Assembly seats.