BJD cast about New Candidates in Western Odisha

BJD cast about New Candidates in Western Odisha

With the buzz of an early election doing the rounds, BJD has started looking for new candidates in several Lok Sabha seats from western Odisha where its candidates were defeated in 2019 polls.

Sources said the BJD is focused on five seats, Kalahandi, Balangir, Sambalpur, Bargarh and Sundargarh which returned BJP candidates in the last Lok Sabha election. Out of these five, the party’s organisation is weakest in Kalahandi and Sundargarh seats.

BJD spokesperson Prasanna Acharya admitted that in at least five out of the four Lok Sabha seats in the western Odisha region, the party does not have presentable candidates. With elections hardly 12 months away, he said, the party has started looking for candidates.

Except Balangir Lok Sabha seat where the Singhdeos still dominate the scene, in other four others, candidates who were fielded by BJD are either unwilling to contest or not being considered by the party. However, the party is also likely to bring in a new face in the Balangir seat. Sources said that the developments in Balangir will be clear within the next one month.

Sources said Acharya, a three-time Lok Sabha and four-time Rajya Sabha MP, is not willing to contest again from the Bargarh Lok Sabha constituency. Acharya had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Bargarh constituency against Suresh Pujari of the BJP.

BJD has won only once in the 2014 polls from Kalahandi seat in the last five elections. The then Kalahandi MP Arka Keshari Deo quit BJD after he was denied ticket in 2019. Though the party gave ticket to Pushpendra Singhdeo, he lost to Basant Panda of the BJP.

Since the last elections, the party is yet to project any other leader as a possible Lok Sabha candidate and is now in search of a new face who can effectively challenge the BJP. A senior BJD leader said since the party’s image took a serious beating after the Mamita Meher murder case, the party is now looking for a new, acceptable face.

Similarly, in Sundargarh Parliamentary constituency, the party is in search of a candidate who can effectively challenge former union minister and BJP veteran Jual Oram. BJD’s experiment to field Sunita Biswal, daughter of former chief minister Hemananda Biswal against Oram had failed as she was defeated by over two lakh votes.

With speculations doing the rounds that former union minister Dilip Ray is likely to rejoin the BJD, the party may also consider fielding him from the seat.

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