'Outsider' irks Orissa BJP

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By SUBRAT DAS in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 13.03.08

Bhubaneswar, March 12: Nomination of an “outsider” as the BJP candidate from the state for the coming Rajya Sabha elections has triggered murmurs of protest among the BJP leaders here.

BJP’s central leadership at New Delhi announced the name of BJP ideologue and journalist Balbir Punj last evening as the candidate from the state. The party leaders are peeved over the announcement, especially since requests of state leaders, including BJP state unit president Suresh Pujari, were ignored.

There were around 10 aspirants for the Rajya Sabha seats and Pujari’s name was short-listed and recommended by the state unit. Pujari and BJP legislature party leader Biswa Bhusan Harichandan went to New Delhi to discuss the matter with the central leadership.

However, sources said the central leaders did not agree to Pujari’s candidature.

Though state leaders were guarded in their reaction, as Punj is known to be an adviser to L.K. Advani, there is an undercurrent of discontentment. “It seems that the views of the state unit have no value for the central leadership,” said a senior leader.

Pujari’s nomination should have been appropriate, since he would have replaced Surendra Lath, who represented western Orissa, said a leader from the region that is a BJP stronghold. Another leader claimed that Pujari, a loyalist, was being “sacrificed” by party top brass.

BJP legislature party leader Harichandan, however, clarified that the selection was made keeping a larger interest in mind. Punj would be the second party candidate to be fielded from outside Orissa. Earlier, Chhatrapal Singh Lodha, an UP leader, was elected from Orissa in 2004. However, he lost membership in the wake of a scandal.

Elections to Rajya Sabha are being held to fill up four vacancies from Orissa. While two seats are held by the BJD, one each belongs to the BJP and the Congress.

The BJD today announced the names of its Rajya Sabha candidates. They are Mangala Kisan and Renubala Pradhan.

Kisan, a tribal leader and former cabinet minister, is known for his honesty and integrity. Pradhan is the chairperson of Ganjam zila parishad.