BJP acquiring ‘baggage’ from BJD

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NF Bureau: The ruling Biju Janata Dal, which is facing the toughest-ever battle in the last 20 years, managed to finalise candidates for 9 Lok Sabha and 54 Assembly seats on March 18. The Congress, which is probably having a worst time in Odisha in several decades, has also announced candidates for 6 Lok Sabha and 36 Assembly seats the following day. But, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is boasting about ‘Mission 120’, yet to announce any candidates whether Lok Saba or Assembly (when this article was being written till 8:30 PM on March 20).

The excess ‘baggage’ or MLAs and aspirants which are being thrown out by the ruling BJD, are being grabbed by the BJP without a second thought. It was evident when the party embraced both sitting MLA (Purnachandra Nayak) and former MLA (Kashinath Mallick) from Daspalla constituency. Both hailed from the ruling party in Odisha.

So far, not a single prominent leader, who is assured of BJD ticket, has not left the party. Rather, those who are already rejected by the party or denied tickets or ignored or snubbed, are switching sides and joining the saffron party, which has enough space to accommodate all. Notable exception was Salipur MLA Prakash Behera, but he hailed from the Congress and it was the political manoevure of Baijayant Panda, which brought him in.

Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda and Dr. Damodar Rout don’t fall in this category, as they had declared war on BJD long ago and even tried to float a new regional party, which did not materialise. The political exodus started with Nabarangpur MP Balabhadra Majhi, who left BJD to join BJP after he was denied a ticket this time.

Former Paralakhemundi MLA K Narayan Rao, former Mayurbhanj MP Laxman Tudu, Aska MLA Debraj Mohanty, former SDC Chairperson, Sundargarh, Kusum Tete, former Polasara MLA Niranjan Pradhan, Nilagiri MLA Sukant Nayak, Daspalla MLA Purnachandra Nayak and former Daspalla MLA Kashinath Mallick have joined the BJP today. There is a speculation that sitting Kalahandi MP Arka Keshari Deo may also join the BJP soon, as he has sent his resignation to BJD supremo after not getting a ticket for either him or his wife this time.

It would be interesting to see how many “rejected” candidates from BJD would join the BJP in the coming days. While the BJD remains over-crowded and facing a tough time to control the dissidents and rebels, the BJP has enough vacancy to accommodate all. However, once the party announces its candidates, the internal bickering can’t be ruled out.

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