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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Naveen tries damage control after ‘rebellion’ over distribution of tickets in Odisha polls

Fearing a repeat of 1995 when his father and the then chief minister Biju Patnaik suffered a shock defeat in elections, Naveen is in mission mode to soothe the aggrieved leaders who were denied tickets by the party

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 24.04.24, 08:38 AM
Naveen Patnaik

Naveen Patnaik Sourced by the Telegraph

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is on a damage control exercise after reports of a possible internal rebellion following the distribution of tickets for the Assembly seats.

Fearing a repeat of 1995 when his father and the then chief minister Biju Patnaik suffered a shock defeat in elections, Naveen is in mission mode to soothe the aggrieved leaders who were denied tickets by the party. In the 1995 election, the Janata Dal headed by Biju got 46 seats and the Congress won 80 seats. Janata Dal had lost 77 seats by a low vote margin compared to its 123 seats in 1990. On the other hand, the Congress’s seats jumped from 10 to 80 in 1995.

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“We had seen how Biju Patnaik at the height of popularity in 1990 was defeated at the hands of Congress in 1995. This time, there is an anti-incumbency factor, and no electoral and emotional issues to connect with people. The BJD needs to put up a united fight to remain in power. That’s why they are meeting the disgruntled leaders,” said political analyst Rabi Das.

A case in point is six-time MLA Amar Prasad Satpathy, a founding member of the BJD who was denied a ticket from the Barachana Assembly in Jajpur district. The ticket was given to Varsha Priyadrashini, the Odia cine star and divorced wife of sitting Kendrapara MP Anubhav Mohanty. Mohanty joined the BJP after being denied a ticket.

Shocked by the development, the people of Barachana expressed their resentment. Sensing that it would have a far-reaching impact, Naveen sent his emissary, the party’s organizational secretary Pranab Prakash Das to pacify Satpathy. Even Varsha rushed to meet Satpathy at his residence to seek his blessings. Later, Satpathy issued a statement in support of Varsha.

“People know Satpathy has been forced to support the party’s decision. It has not gone down well with the cadres,” said a close supporter of Satpathy.

Similarly, disgruntled leaders like Biranchi Narayan Mahasupakar and Amaresh Jena were called to Naveen Nivas and asked to support the party’s candidate minister Ashok Chandra Panda and Ananta Narayan Jena from Bhubaneswar (Ekamra) and Bhubaneswar (central) Assembly segments respectively.

What has made matters worse is that two senior women leaders, MLA from Hindol Simarani Nayak in Dhenkanal and former Sambalpur MLA Rasheswari Panigrahi, resigned from the BJD after being denied tickets. Several stalwarts, including six-time MLA from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahtab, Arindam Roy and others, left the BJD. Mahtab is now the BJP candidate from Cuttack.Lok Sabha seat.

Samir Ranjan Dash, a former minister after being denied a ticket from Nimapara in Puri district, had organised a rally with more than 30,000 people urging Naveen to reconsider the decision.

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