Bhubaneswar, April 20: Opening up for the first time since being denied a ticket by the ruling party, former finance minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei hit out at the BJD leadership saying that the ticket distribution defied established principles.
“The ticket was denied to me and given to the sitting MLA from Korei, Preeti Ranjan Ghadei. This was a major departure from the principles of ticket distribution,” said the veteran leader.
Preeti Ranjan, who happens to be his son, is locked in a tough battle with his Congress rival, Sarat Rout.
In 2009, Ghadei had won from the Sukinda seat, once considered his pocket borough, for the fifth time in a row by a margin of 2,403 votes. Preeti Ranjan was elected from Korei, thus making it double delight for the Ghadeis.
However, the equations changed this time with the senior Ghadei being kept out of the poll race and Preeti Ranjan being shifted from Korei to Sukinda.
The former finance minister’s disappointment over being denied a ticket was obvious. “I had expected to contest again on the party ticket. But I was denied the chance,” he said. Surrounded by supporters at his official residence, the veteran looked dejected.
“Sitting MLAs with winning prospects are normally given tickets. My son should have been allowed to contest from Korei and I should have been retained in Sukinda. I am disappointed. But being a disciplined soldier, I did not protest,” he said.
With a section within the party trying to justify the denial of ticket to him on the ground of age and one family, one ticket norm, Ghadei lashed out at his critics. “If the party has given opportunities to senior leaders such as A.U. Singh Deo, Kalapataru Das, Ananta Das, Bed Prakash Agarwal and Damodar Rout to contest, I, too, was eligible by the same yard stick. If the sons of some of them also contested, what was wrong in me contesting along with my son? I have given the party the best years of my life,” said Ghadei, who was among the 35 sitting MLAs who were denied BJD tickets this time.
The party, said sources, might find the going tough in some of the areas because of the resentment among senior leaders over the denial of tickets. Ghadei, a seven-time MLA, fell from grace in the wake of the May 2012 rebellion against chief minister Naveen Patnaik led by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, who currently leads the Odisha Jan Morcha. Though he had vehemently denied playing a role in the alleged coup against Naveen, it seems the leadership was not convinced and decided to clip his wings.
Ghadei dismissed the charge of being disloyal to Naveen. “I am not one to follow double standards,” he asserted. Sources close to him said that while people who were actually close to Mohapatra had gained, honest workers like Ghadei had been punished.
In order to assuage the feelings of Ghadei, the party leadership has reportedly assured him of a Rajya Sabha berth. Four Rajya Sabha seats are going to fall vacant with Dillip Tirkey, Rabi Narayan Mohapatra, Sashi Bhusan Behera and A.U. Singhdeo contesting from different Assembly and Lok Sabha seats.
On being asked if he would be interested in a Rajya Sabha berth, Ghadei said: “I hope the party will use my services. What ever the party high command decides, I will abide by it.”