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Rebel headache in poll time
Dissidents rattle BJD the most

Supporters of Biranchi Narayan Mahasupkar express solidarity with their leader near his the residence and (below) block NH-203 near Samantarapur to protest against the BJD’s decision to nominate him from ward No. 52 instead of ward No. 59 in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 22: In poll season, rebels have turned the heat on political parties. And the party worst hit by dissidence activities is the BJD.

With election to the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation barely a fortnight away, the situation has become even more acute for the BJD as grassroots level workers are feeling betrayed.

While dissidence in the BJD has now become public in all the three Assembly constituencies, the voice of rebellion is loudest in Emakra Assembly constituency with many councillors or their spouses taking on the official candidates and they are in no mood to withdraw their nominations.

According to the poll schedule, candidates can withdraw by 3pm on December 26 and the final list of the contesting candidates will be made public by 5pm on the same day.

The Congress has so far given tickets to 64 candidates for 67 wards, while the BJP is contesting in 66 wards.

Interestingly, supporters of sitting BJD councillor Biranchi Narayan Mahasupkar of ward No. 59 yesterday staged a road blockade on the nearby NH-203 protesting denial of the BJD ticket to him.

On the final day of filing of the nomination papers on December 20, the party offered him a chance to contest from ward No. 52, which is far away from his own ward in Samantarapur.

Mahasupakar said that he always remained with his supporters and would like to contest from ward No. 59 and not 52 as the party had planned.

The BJD selection committee has favoured a former supporter of Odisha Jan Morcha instead of Mahasupkar from ward No 59.

Not only in ward No. 59, the selection of candidates may prove costly for the party in more than 10 wards, say party insiders.

Susmita Nanda, a BJD candidate from Madhusudan Nagar, has filed her papers as an Independent candidate.

On the other hand, party cadres are also feeling let down. They are peeved over the whimsical decision of the party leadership in selecting “outsiders” and not considering the “genuine” workers who are with the party since more than a decade.

“I am with the BJD youth wing since 2002 and was an aspirant from ward No. 61, but instead of considering my name they gave the party ticket to an unknown figure. I hope almost the entire list of party candidates under our Assembly constituency is not based on merit and winnability criteria,’’ said state vice-president of BJD Youth Wing Mandakini Kar.

“The selection committee’s plea that party chief Naveen Patnaik is finalising the candidates’ list is baseless,’’ Kar added.

Parliamentary affairs minister and chairman of the candidate selection committee Kalpataru Das said: “Some people must be unhappy with the party’s decisions and it is part of the poll process. We are holding counselling sessions for such candidates and it may not influence our poll results. We will win 60 or more seats comfortably.’’

District Congress Committee president Manoranjan Das said: “We have not given tickets to candidates in three wards and despite that there could be differences of opinion in two or three wards, but we will try to solve the problem and see that not a single rebel candidate split Congress votes.’’

The Congress leader said with rebel BJD candidates contesting in 50 per cent or more seats this time, the Congress would gain from the situation. He said the party would win 30 or more seats.

BJP state executive member Ratikanta Das, on the other hand, admitted that there could be four to five rebel candidates.

However, he was also hopeful that with a majority of the former BJD councillors or their kin fighting as Independent candidates, the BJP had a good chance to win at least 25 seats.

Local residents in Chandrasekharpur suspect that infighting among the BJD candidates could also be a reason behind Saturday’s torching of a car of a candidate, who is going to fight the civic polls from ward No. 7.