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CM forces Singh Deo into battle

Bhubaneswar, March 20: In a snub to his Doon schoolmate A.U. Singh Deo, chief minister Naveen Patnaik today reversed his decision on the candidature of former’s confidant, Harekrushna Sarangi, in Balangir and asked the royal scion, who is a Rajya Sabha member-elect, to take the field.

The decision, coming in the wake of a storm within the party over Sarangi, who was widely seen as a proxy for Singh Deo in Balangir, the Assembly seat considered to be a royal pocketborough, has surprised many.

But Naveen was firm and Singh Deo, who was elected to the Upper House in February, immediately fell in line saying he was a disciplined soldier of the party. The BJD today declared its fourth list of candidates for 41 Assembly and seven Lok Sabha seats. However, the party is yet to announce candidates for Bhubaneswar, Jajpur, Keonjhar and Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seats and another 36 Assembly seats. Last time, Bibhu Prasad Tarai won the Jagatsinghpur Lok Sbaha seat on a CPI ticket, but following his recent expulsion from the party, Tarai today joined the Congress.

With the sole exception of Anjali Behera, most of the MLAs who had allegedly sided with Odisha Jan Morcha leader Pyari Mohan Mohapatra when he had led an alleged revolt against Naveen, have been re-nominated. Even Pravat Ranjan Biswal, the man once considered to be closest to Mohapatra, has been given a ticket from Choudwar-Cuttack. Sources said the move was aimed to prevent possible poaching of BJD leaders by Mohapatra.

Eight sitting MLAs, including veteran Kalinidi Charan Behera and soft-spoken Siddhartha Sekhar Singh have been denied ticket. Sitting Mayurbhanj MP Laxman Tudu has been replaced with party MLA from Saraskana in Mayurbhanj, Ramachandra Hansda. While Kalindi’s son, Chandrasarathi Behera, the sitting MLA from Salipur, has been given the ticket from his father’s constituency, Cuttack-Sadar, a newcomer, Prasanat Behera, has been made the candidate from Salipur.

BJD vice-president Kalapataru Das, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha last month along with A.U. Singh Deo, seems to have had the best of both the worlds with his son, Pranab Balabantaray, being fielded from Dharmsala, his traditional constituency.

While five sitting MPs Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda from Kendrapara, Bhartruhari Mahtab from Cuttack Arjun Sethi-Bhadrak, Tathagat Satpathy-Dhenkanal and Pinaki Mishra-Puri have been re-nominated, a new face, Rabindra Jena, till recently part of the corporate world, has been fielded from Balasore.

Rajya Sabha member Rabi Narayan Mohapatra has been given the party ticket from Ranpur. Another Rajya Sabha member, Dillip Tirkey, was given the ticket from Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat.

While law minister Maheswar Mohanty has been re-nominated from the Puri Assembly seat, JMM turncoats, Sudam Marandi and Bhada Hansda, have also been rewarded with Assembly tickets.

The only cine star in the fray on the BJD ticket so far is Siddhant Mohapatra, who has been re-nominated on the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat.


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