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Stars win Naveen’s confidence

- Ghadei, Mohan Jena denied BJD tickets

Bhubaneswar, March 22: Former finance minister Prafulla Ghadei and BJD MP from Jajpur Mohan Jena are among the eight sitting MLAs and two MPs, who were denied tickets by the ruling party today.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik fielded Ghadei’s son Preeti Ranjan from Sukinda. Preeti’s constituency, Korei, has gone to cine star Akash Das Nayak, whose father, Mayadhar Nayak, is a trade unionist. Besides, Naveen promised film star Anubhav Mohanty a Rajya Sabha seat.

The BJD is the party with maximum stars from the local film industry in its ranks. But not all have been accommodated this time. While Siddhant Mohapatra has been re-nominated from the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat, actor-turned-producer Prashant Nanda was denied a ticket from his traditional seat, Begunia, where former president of Khurda zilla parishad Ganesh Jagdev has been fielded.

Sources said Akash had been fielded from Korei because of his youthful charm, which might attract the young voters and the fact that his father also wields considerable influence in Jajpur district of which the constituency is a part. Anubhav has been promised a Rajya Sabha seat to keep him free and motivated to campaign for party candidates in the election.

The suspense over the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat came to an end today with Prasanna Kumar Patasani being nominated for the fifth time in a row by the party. However, it has fielded new faces in Jajpur, Keonjhar and Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seats.

While Jajpur’s sitting MP Mohan Jena has been replaced by Rita Tarai, a zila parishad member and a close associate of BJD vice-president Kalpataru Das, Keonjhar MP Jaswant Singh Laghuri has been substituted by his wife, Shakuntala.

In the Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seat, which the CPI won last time following an alliance with the BJD, the ruling party has fielded Kulamani Samal, a popular local doctor. He will lock horns with CPI turncoat Bibhu Prasad Tarai, who is contesting on a Congress ticket this time.

The sitting legislators to get the axe include Parshuram Panigrahi, Nabin Nanda, Rabi Naryan Pani, Prafulla Ghadei, Arabind Dhali, Prasahant Nanda, Rabi Mallick and Rabindra Bhoi. Of these, Nabin Nanda and Prashant Nanda had joined the party in 2012 after crossing over from the Nationalist Congress Party.

However, Naveen has retained sitting Bhubaneswar (central) MLA Bijay Mohanty and Ekamra legislator Ashok Panda. While Jaydev MLA Arabind Dhali has been replaced by Rajya Sabha member Sashi Bushan Behera, a decision on Bhubaneswar (north) seat is yet to be taken.

In Jagatsinghpur, Naveen has done a balancing act by retaining both the prima donnas, Damodar Rout (Paradip) and Bishnu Das (Jagatsinghpur). Rout said: “Even if one feels unhappy about certain things, one has to fall in line as a disciplined soldier of the party.”

Naveen’s decision to field Rajya Sabha members in the general election is creating four vacancies in Parliament’s Upper House from Odisha. While Dillip Tirkey, an Upper House member, has been fielded from the Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat, Sashi Bhushan Behera, his Rajya Sabha colleague, has been given a ticket from the Jaydev Assembly seat. Two other Rajya Sabha members, Rabi Narayan Mohapatra and A.U. Singh Deo, have also been given Assembly tickets.

Mohan Jena trained his guns at BJD vice-president Kalpataru Das. “He has been spreading all stories against me. He is responsible for the ticket being denied to me,” said Jena. Kalpataru, however, said the decision to replace Jena was taken by Naveen.


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