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Rebel blow to BJD tally
- Independents trounce party candidates in CMC polls

Cuttack. Feb. 8: The victory of rebel candidates among 10 Independents in the municipal corporation polls here appears to be a blow to the BJD though the party reaffirmed its hegemony by winning in 36 of the 59 wards.

Of the eight rebel candidates, four won as Independents, trouncing the official BJD candidates. Two of them won from wards in which the residences of BJD leaders — Choudwar Cuttack MLA and Barabati Cuttack MLA — are located.

Their victory is indicative of poor judgement of the BJD leadership that failed to pick right candidates in several wards.

Prominent rebel Chiranjay Sahu, a former councillor, won from ward No. 42, from where he had been denied a party ticket after the ward was left unreserved. In 2009, his sister-in-law Sarojini Sahoo was elected from the ward, which was then reserved for women. Chiranjay won, despite intensive campaigning by chief minister Naveen Patnaik in the area.

“They overlooked me, but my victory has proved my hold in the area,” said Chiranjay, who polled 1,928 votes, leaving the BJD candidate, Prakash Das, trailing by 1,155 votes.

BJD leader and Choudwar Cuttack MLA Pravat Biswal conceded that there had been error in judgement in selection of candidates in some wards. Another prominent rebel, Pradipta Kishore Khuntia’s wife Chitra Khuntia, won from ward No. 44, from where she was denied a party ticket after the seat was left reserved for women after delimitation. She won, polling 2,255 votes, while BJD candidate Chandrakanti Priyadarsini got only 193 votes. “Her victory has proved our acceptability among the people of the area,” said Pradipta Kishore, who was elected from the ward as an Independent candidate in 2003 and BJD candidate in 2009.

Another Independent candidate in ward No. 30, Namita Das, defeated her nearest rival, BJD’s Pragyaparamita Mohanty, who got 689 votes less than the votes bagged by Das, the sister of former councillor Narattam Das. In 2009, Narottama was denied a BJD ticket, but he had gone ahead to win as an Independent candidate from the ward, where BJD leader and Barabati Cuttack MLA Debashis Samantaray’s residence is located. He had joined the BJD and expected a ticket for his sister after the ward had been reserved for women.

BJD councillor Bijay Ketan Khandei had tried for a party ticket for his wife this time in his ward No. 47 after it had been reserved for women, but was forced to field her as an Independent candidate. Kabita Khandei, his wife, won, pushing the BJD candidate, Rekharani Mohanty, to the third position by bagging 1,555 votes against CPI (M) candidate Subhra Mohapatra’s 1,311 votes. BJD leader and Choudwar Cuttack MLA Pravat Biswal’s residence is located in the ward.