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Rebel fear forces candidate change
- BJD most hit by dissidence

Bhubaneswar, March 26: Major parties are battling dissidence in their ranks following distribution of tickets that has turned out to be an invidious exercise.

Fearing backlash from party workers, the BJD has been forced to change its candidates in three Assembly constituencies — Rajnagar, Balangir and Kabisurya Nagar. The party today replaced Alekh Chandra Jena with Dhruba Sahoo as its candidate from Rajnagar following protests over the choice of Jena, who is considered close to Kendrapara Lok Sabha candidate Baijayant “Jay” Panda.

Earlier, the candidates in Balangir and Kabisurya Nagar were changed under similar circumstances. While in Balangir, Harekrushna Sarangi, a lightweight, was replaced with royal scion A.U. Singh Deo, in Kavisurya Nagar, veteran Sugyan Kumari Deo was fielded replacing newbie Latika Pradhan.

The BJD has denied tickets to as many as 35 sitting MLAs and six sitting MPs, a record of sorts that has not gone down well with the supporters of the dropped leaders. There is also anger over tickets being given to relatively unknown leaders without any support base in their constituencies.

Former minister Anjali Behera, who lost the race for a BJD ticket to newcomer Seema Nayak, has protested by filing her nomination from Hindol as an Independent. Jajapur MP Mohan Jena, who has been replaced with greenhorn Rita Tarei, has trained his guns at party vice-president Kalpataru Das, chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s confidant. “He has been spreading all kinds of stories about me. I have been made a scapegoat,” said Jena, a two-time member of Lok Sabha.

In Jajpur district, the ongoing tussle between Kalpataru Das and former finance minister Prafulla Ghadei, who has been denied a ticket this time, is threatening to cast a shadow on the party’s poll prospects. “His claims from Sukinda were ignored and as compensation his son, Preeti Ranjan, was offered the constituency. But that is no compensation because Preeti Ranjan was already an MLA from Korei in the same district. The Korei ticket has been unfairly given to a film star, Akash, who happens to be the son of Prafulla babu’s arch-rival. How can we tolerate this?” fumed a Ghadei supporter.

Another BJD stalwart Amar Satpathy, who filed the nomination papers from Badachana in Jajpur, is facing a challenge from party rebel Amar Nayak, who had filed his papers as an Independent. Former minister Debasis Nayak, too, is facing the threat of backlash from party cadres in Bari.

While the BJD’s Ekamra MLA Ashok Panda seems to be facing dissidence, in Khurda, party stalwart Jitu Mitra has crossed over to the BJP. In Balasore, the ticket denial to former minister Raghunath Mohanty is likely to affect the chances of party candidates. Denied ticket, outgoing Kakatpur MLA Rabi Mallick may spoilsport for the official candidate in the seat.

In Champua, supporters of the BJD’s Keonjhar district unit president Kusha Appat today hurled eggs on the procession of popular comedian and BJD’s candidate Pappu Pom Pom while he was going to file his nomination papers. The constituency’s outgoing MLA Jitu Patnaik, who had joined the BJD last month, is said to be unhappy. The recent outburst of Anandpur MLA Bhagirathi Sethi against senior minister Badri Narayan Patra after being denied ticket also does not augur well for the party.

Dissidence has also rocked tribal-hit districts such as Kandhamal and Koraput. In Kandhamal, outgoing Phulbani MLA Debendra Kanhar is sulking after being denied ticket and is reported to have received a call for a meeting Naveen tomorrow. There is resentment among party cadres against the candidature of Ashok Pangi, son of outgoing Koraput MP Jairam Pangi, from Pottangi.

The Congress has also been hit by dissidence. The house of party’s state chief Jaydev Jena in Bhubaneswar was stoned by irate workers, who also staged a dharna in front of state Congress committee chairman and its Balasore Lok Sabha candidate Srikant Jena. Lashing out at the party leadership, former PCC president Niranjan Patnaik said: “Distribution of tickets has been unfair. Vested interests have gained.”