Bhubaneswar, Jan. 1: Denied a party ticket for the civic polls? Go alone. That is the mantra for the former councillors and their kin.
Former heavyweights, who have been denied a ticket by their respective political parties for the ensuing Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation polls this time, are posing a threat to the official candidates by deciding to fight as Independents.
While the threat has become more acute in the BJD, the problem is also serious in the Congress, which has fielded candidates in only 62 of the city’s 67 wards.
The BJD is the only party contesting in all the wards. The BJP has fielded 66 candidates.
Former councillor Biranchi Narayan Mahasupkar is contesting from ward No. 59 as an Independent after being denied a BJD ticket. The party wanted him to contest from ward No. 52. Official candidates of the major parties in the ward appear to be lightweights in comparison to him.
On the other hand, former councillor of Dumduma Kartik Chandra Sundaray has filed nomination papers as an Independent from ward No. 66. His wife Rajanibala has also filed papers in similar manner from ward No. 65.
Many BJD insiders and sitting councillors are of the opinion that the Independents could cause havoc as they might take away the votes of their supporters away from the official candidates. In many wards, the rift between the three MLAs and the mayor could also pose a threat.
In Chandrasekharpur (ward No. 13), which is in Bhubaneswar (North) constituency, the MLA concerned had promised one of his supporters a ticket.
But as the ticket went to the sitting councillor in the eleventh hour, the MLA’s supporter has filed nomination as an Independent. With eight Independent candidates in the fray to share the votes, the fate of the three candidates remain unpredictable.
Similarly, Rashmirekha Jena from ward No. 8 (see chart), Sasmita Nanda from ward No. 36, Rachana Patsani from ward No. 44, Rajashree Jena from ward No. 61 are fighting the January 8 elections as Independents. But interestingly, except Sasmita, all other candidates are wives of sitting councillors or local BJD leaders who lost their ticket to delimitation or the screening process.
Sitting councillor Malaya Kumar Mohapatra, who contested as an Independent candidate in the last two civic polls, did not get a ticket this time as his ward was reserved for candidates from other backward classes (OBC) category after the delimitation process.
“A candidate supported by me is contesting from ward No. 58 and I am sure my candidate will win,” said Mohapatra. He added that the contest would be between the two Independent candidates here and not among the party candidates.
Mohapatra tried for a party ticket for his sister Namita Mohapatra in the neighbouring ward no. 57, but the party denied her one. After that, his sister also filed her nomination papers as an Independent.
“People in this ward are fond of me and I am sure my sister will definitely win riding on my work and goodwill,” said Mohapatra, who even had filed his nomination paper from neighbouring ward No. 56, but the party preferred the sitting councillor of that ward to him.
He alleged that the local MLA played spoilsport in not giving him or his supporter a ticket.
Similarly, Hemalata Bisoi, who had contested from ward no. 54 as a councillor in the last council, could not get a ticket from the party this time. She was waiting till the last moment hoping the party will allow her to contest as a party candidate.
“I have done a lot of good work and this will help me win over the party candidate,” said Bisoi.
Ekamra MLA Ashok Kumar Panda said: “We have distributed tickets to candidates according to the criteria of the party on their ability to win, education and transparency. We cannot stop anyone from filing nominations as Independent. But, the BJD has the potential to win more than 60 seats in the upcoming civic polls.’’
District congress committee president Manoranjan Das said: “There were some last minute problems on selection of candidates. So, our party had fielded 63 candidates. But, as one nomination got cancelled during scrutiny, there are only 62 from our party in the fray for the civic polls.”
BJP state executive member Ratikanta Das said: “We have minimised the threat from the Independents by filing candidates 66 wards.”