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Naveen picks Jena for top job

Mayor to focus on city outskirts

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 17: Putting all speculation to rest, Ananta Narayan Jena was elected the mayor here today.

Jena becomes the first person to become mayor of Bhubaneswar for two consecutive terms since the corporation was formed in 2003.

His election was a mere formality as chief minister Naveen Patnaik had announced his name in the morning.

A three-time councillor from the ruling BJD, Jena was also the winner with the highest margin of votes this time. He defeated his nearest rival by a margin of 4,334 votes.

Hundreds of Jena supporters today gathered near the corporation office since early morning hours with bouquets in hand.

After the declaration of the result by municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra, they organised a procession for Jena that went round the city.

“Jena was the only candidate to file his nomination. He was declared elected after 1pm as it was the deadline to withdraw nomination papers, if any,’’ Mishra said.

Earlier in the morning, Naveen declared Jena as the party’s candidate for the mayor’s post. All the BJD councillors were present at Naveen Nivas when the announcement was made.

Leader of the Independent councillors and BJD rebel Biranchi Narayan Mahasupakar said: “We are behind Jena and will extend all support to him in the future.’’

Jena thanked the voters and said that the rehabilitation of slum dwellers, renovation of drainage channels, sewer lines, drinking water and road construction on the outskirts would be his priority.

Born on January 5, 1969, Jena, popularly known as Bunu, had his schooling at Unit VIII High School and then went to Rajdhani College, Bhubaneswar.

In his college day, he was the athletics secretary and then the general secretary of the students’ union. After graduation, he got his law degree from Utkal University.

Under Jena’s leadership, the corporation won the United Nations Sasakawa Award for disaster reduction in 2011. In the same year, the corporation also launched the Clean Bhubaneswar Campaign.

Jena’s election was also welcomed by other aspirants for the post.

While four-time councillor Seikh Nizammudin said that the party’s decision was apt, two-time winner and BJD youth leader Amaresh Jena said he was never in the ‘race’.

Mahamaya Swain, who came to the forefront as a woman candidate, said: “The speculation over me was a creation of the media and the party supremo’s decision is final.’’

Former councillor Malay Kumar Mohapatra told The Telegraph that despite opposition from certain quarters, Jena’s re-election as mayor had proved that his good work had been rewarded.

After the election of the mayor, all eyes are now on the post of the deputy mayor.

Going by the convention it is most likely that a woman councillor will be elected as deputy mayor.

The election to the post of deputy mayor will be held on February 5.

Political sources said former deputy mayor Bharati Singh, two-time councillors K Shanti and Mahamaya Swain and newcomer Pritinanda Routray were in the race for deputy mayor’s post.

However, the BJD president will take the final decision on who becomes the deputy mayor.