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Naveen faces problem of plenty

Bhubaneswar, March 11: The BJD is yet to finalise the names of its candidates though the Congress and the BJP have already released their first list for the forthcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik is consulting with his colleagues and expected to finalise the list of nominees in a day or two. Naveen, who is on an overdrive and known for maintaining a distance from party leaders and workers, is now meeting them to personally to receive their applications.

However, suspense continues in the ruling party as Naveen is keeping his cards close to his chest. No leader in the party is sure of getting the party nomination.

“The party supremo will take a final call on distribution of tickets. We will announce the first list of candidates within two days,” said vice-president Kalpataru Das.

In the first phase, names will be announced for 70 Assembly seats and 10 Lok Sabha seats where elections will be held on April 10.

The BJD’s sitting MP from Koraput Jairam Pangi today announced that he would not contest any election, citing his poor health condition. Former leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh, who joined the BJD last week, today called on Naveen. After the meeting, Singh said he was not interested in contesting the elections. “I will work for the party. Our leader will decide my future course of action,” said Singh.

BJD sources said the party had received nearly 27,000 applications from various walks of life for the 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats.

The task of selecting candidates has become more difficult due to the fact that a number of senior leaders from various parties have joined the BJD.

While former president of the BJP state unit Bimbadhar Kuanr ditched his party of 35-years to hitch his wagon to the BJD, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra’s most-trusted lieutenant Sarat Mishra today joined the BJD. He was the treasurer of Mohapatra’s political outfit Odisha Jan Morcha. Mishra is a contender for the Bhubaneswar (north) Assembly segment.

The BJP’s state president K.V. Singh Deo said: “At present, we are busy in preparing for Narendra Modi’s visit to Sambalpur on March 14.”

The Congress today met at Delhi to discuss how the party could put up a tough fight against the BJD.

The exodus from the party continued with two of its leaders — PCC spokesperson Ashok Samal and secretary Bharati Das — leaving the party today.

Besides, CPI stalwart A.B. Bardhan today reached the city to attend the party’s state executive and council meetings.

He said: “We are interested in a tie-up with the BJD. If the BJD expresses its willingness for an alliance, we are ready for it,” said Bardhan.

The CPI will announce its list of nominees on March 13. It also wants to make a tie-up its with its traditional ally CPM, which has already announced its candidates for two Lok Sabha seats — Berhmapur and Balasore — and 12 Assembly seats.


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