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Congress plays cop card

- Party retains sitting MPs in 4 constituencies

Bhubaneswar, March 13: The Congress today released its second list of candidates for six Lok Sabha seats, fielding a retired IPS officer from Mayurbhanj, while it retained its sitting MPs in four other constituencies.

On one other seat, the Congress has fielded a former MLA.

The candidature of Shyam Sunder Hansda, who called curtains on his long career as a police officer last year, is being seen as a shrewd move by the Congress to woo the tribal population of Mayurbhanj.

The proposed pact between the BJD and the JMM has run into rough weather over the Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat. The BJD’s much-awaited second list of candidates was not released till late in the evening. The party, however, formed an election manifesto committee under the leadership of finance minister Prasanna Acharya. On the other hand, the BJP gave last minute touches to its preparations for its rally of prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi at Sambalpur tomorrow.

Apart from Hansda, there are hardly any surprises in the list released by the Congress, which has re-nominated four of its sitting MPs — Hemananda Biswal (Sundargarh), Amar Pradan (Sambalpur), Pradeep Majhi (Nabarangpur) and Bhakta Charan Das (Kalahandi). Former MLA Harihar Karan has been fielded from Kandhamal, which the BJD’s Rudra Madhab Ray represents.

Karan had shot to limelight sometimes ago after taking the decision to throw out former MP Soumya Ranjan Patnaik from the Congress as the state unit’s disciplinary committee chairman. He will be contesting the communally sensitive seat for the first time.

The AICC has kept its faith in former chief minister Hemananda Biswal apparently because of his stature as one of the tallest tribal leaders of the party in the state. But, the decision to retain Amar Pradhan from Sambalpur comes as a surprise, because his track record as an MP has not been impressive. The party apparently opted in his favour for want of better candidates and the fact that he was loyal to the present leadership.

After the announcement, Pradeep Majhi, a sitting MP from Nabarangpur, said: “I am with the people and confident of doing well again. The Congress, hopefully, will retain the seat.” Bhakta Charan Das, who has been organising agitation against the Vedanta’s project at Lanjigarh, has also been rewarded for his loyalty and his closeness to Rahul Gandhi.

In another development, after failing to make a pact with the BJP, the Aam Odisha Party and the Utkal Bharat today joined hands and decided to contest on the pot symbol allotted to the latter. They will field candidates in all 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly constituencies of the state. Utkal Bharat president Kharvela Swain said: “We will contest under the leadership of Soumya Ranjan Patnaik. The common symbol will help us. Those, who want to join hands against the BJD, should join us.”

“The new arrangement will provide an alternative to the people since both the Opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP, have failed to put up an effective fight against the corrupt BJD government,” said Patnaik.

Besides, the CPI announced candidates for four Lok Sabha and 27 Assembly seats in Odisha. The party’s candidates for the four Lok Sabha seats are sitting MP Bibhuprasad Tarai (Jagatsinghpur), Prasant Mishra (Balasore), Ramesh Jena (Bhadrak) and Ashok Bisi (Bargarh). In the first phase, it announced names of the 18 Assembly candidates.

The Socialist Workers Party, a new outfit, today said it would field candidates in 15 Assembly seats in Odisha in the coming polls.


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