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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Party hoppers rule the roost in Odisha as BJP, BJD give more weightage to new entrants

The trend has become more prominent following the collapse of pre-poll tie-up talks between the BJP and the BJD. Lured by tickets, leaders from both parties are jumping the ship at an alarming rate

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 01.04.24, 07:09 AM
Former Congress MLA Chiranjib Biswal joins the BJD in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

Former Congress MLA Chiranjib Biswal joins the BJD in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. PTI picture

Turncoats are playing a dominant role in Odisha politics at present.

The trend has become more prominent following the collapse of pre-poll tie-up talks between the BJP and the BJD. Lured by tickets, leaders from both parties are jumping the ship at an alarming rate.

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Besides the turncoats, new entrants are being given more weightage by the parties that are ignoring the “rightful claims” of dedicated workers.

Almost all the leaders who have deserted the BJD and joined the BJP are being awarded tickets to contest the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Prominent among them are six-time MP from Cuttack Bhartruhari Mahtab and Pradeep Panigrahy.

While Mahtab has been fielded as the BJP candidate from Cuttack, Panigrahy is the choice for the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat. Earlier, the state unit had assured eminent doctor Purna Chandra Mohapatra that he would be fielded from Cuttack.

“This is the era of party hoppers. Party hoppers are getting more weightage than dedicated workers. They join the party at the last moment and are rewarded with tickets,” said Birupakshya Tripathy, editor of Pragativadi, a local vernacular newspaper.

Actor-turned-politicians — Kendrapara MP Anubhav Mohanty, former Korei MLA Akash Das Nayak, film star Arindam Ray and BJD MP and noted film star Sidhant Mohapatra — have also quit the BJD and flocked to the BJP. All of them have been assured tickets in the Assembly elections.

Senior leaders such as Debasis Nayak, former political secretary of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, MLAs Prashant Jagdev and Arabinda Dhali, and many former MLAs have also switched loyalties to the saffron party. They are also likely to get Assembly tickets.

The BJP is yet to announce its candidate list for the Assembly polls.

The BJD has also rewarded party hoppers. Prominent among them are Anshuman Mohanty, the former MLA and president of the Kendrapara district Congress
unit. He has been pitted against BJP stalwart Baijayant Jay Panda. Taking the fight as a prestige issue, chief minister Naveen Patnaik assured Anshuman that he would personally go and campaign for him.

However, Naveen’s move has not gone down well with a section of BJD workers at the district unit. “The cadres at the district level are already divided over the issue,” said a senior BJD leader.

The party has roped in Congress stalwart Surendra Singh Bhoi from Balangir
and he is likely to get a ticket from the Balangir Lok Sabha constituency.

A former MLA and Congress stalwart from the coastal belt, Chiranjib Biswal, and BJP MLA from Nilagiri in Balasore district, Sukanta Nayak, joined the BJD on Sunday. Both of them have been assured tickets by the leadership. Biswal is the elder brother of former IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal.

Asked why the turncoats were being given preference, political observer Girija Shankar Das said: “As the parties fail to build their networks in a particular area, they feel the stalwarts from other parties would help them in ensuring victory in the elections. Sometimes, the fading popularity of the existing leaders also forces a party to go for poaching leaders from other parties.”

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