| BJP candidate Lala Ashok Kumar Ray on a door-to-door campaign at Unit-III in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati |
Bhubaneswar, Dec. 24: After scrutiny of nomination papers today, 432 candidates are left in the fray for the municipal corporation polls to be held on January 8. As rebels form a chunk of these candidates, political parties are mounting pressure on them to withdraw.
However, all eyes are set on Thursday, which is the final day for withdrawal of nominations. Election officer-cum-additional district magistrate Manoj Kumar Patnaik said: Out of the 432 candidates, 224 are Independents and other candidates. While the state party Biju Janata Dal has given tickets to 67 candidates, national parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded 66 and the Indian National Congress 62 candidates, respectively.
After the delimitation exercise this year, the corporation has 67 wards, up by seven from the 2008 elections.
Other national parties such as the BSP has fielded six candidates, CPI four, CPM three and NCP one candidate in the election. All six national parties taken together have fielded 141 candidates.
The most number of nominations (21) have filed from ward No. 21 (Salia Sahi), while ward No. 40 (Unit I and Unit II) comes second with 15 nominations. Ward No. 67 (Kapilaprasad) comes third with 12 candidates in the fray. In seven of the 67 wards going to polls, only three nominations have been filed in each of those.
A poll official said that beginning today candidates could withdraw nominations and the process would end at 3pm on Thursday. At 5pm on Thursday, the election commission will announce the final list of contesting candidates. A former councillor of the BJD said that the party fears that rebels might take on the official candidate in at least 20 wards, said a former councillor.
He said that the rebel candidates were likely to give the BJD nominees a tough fight.
BJD rebel Biranchi Narayan Mahasupkar said: I was given party ticket from ward No. 52. But I will contest from ward No. 59 (Samantarapur) as an Independent. I will not change my decision under pressure from the party.
Former BJD councillor Sasmita Nanda from ward No. 36 (Madhusudan Nagar) is also going to contest the poll as an Independent candidate. I have decided to follow my soul and will never change my decision, she added.
BJD MLA from Ekamra Ashok Kumar Panda told The Telegraph that the party would definitely ask Independent candidates (many of them former councillors) to withdraw nominations, but if they continue to disobey the directives, then stringent actions might be initiated against them.
Bhubaneswar district Congress president Manoranjan Das said: There are no rebel candidates from the party as all issues have been resolved. After the publication of final list on Thursday, the candidates will start serious campaign. Now some party candidates are carrying out door-to-door campaign.
Similarly, BJP state executive member Ratikanta Das said: We had differences in two wards out of 66 nominations filed, but negotiations are on and it would be resolved within the prescribed time.