Bhubaneswar: Soon after the results of recently concluded Patkura by-poll and the politically sensitive seat retained by Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) defeating BJP stalwart Bijoy Mohapatra, now eyes of the main political parties are on the Bijepur by-poll even though the Election Commission has not yet announced any date of poll nor anybody has an inkling of it.
The by-poll to Bijepur assembly segment under Bargarh parliamentary constituency has to be held within six months as it is lying vacant. It had been won by BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He, however, quit it after the results of the general elections were announced as well as his new government was sworn in to power. Naveen opted for his pocket borough Hinjili assembly seat instead of Bijepur.
Notably, the regional satrap had this time contested simultaneously from his home turf Hinjili and Bijepur assembly constituencies. He has also won both the seats with a massive mandate.
In his media reactions yesterday, senior BJD MLA and Minister Sushanta Singh had said, “We have very often said that BJD is always ready to contest any election, be it of a ward member or an MP post. Bijepur by-poll will be held most probably after this monsoon season. Candidate not yet finalized, but there are several aspirants. Winnabilty will be one of the top most criteria and the candidature will be declared by our party supremo and Chief Minister.”
He explained, “As it is my home district and I represent the district as a minister, I’m laying utmost stress on it. It is on my priority list. Hon’ble Chief Minister has focused on Bijepur, especially western Odisha. He has announced lots of schemes and programmes for the area. In the last 20 years, there have been many by-polls, but nowhere package has been announced except Bijepur.”
“As Bijepur seat is at present lying vacant in absence of an MLA, we are looking after it personally. All the three chairmen are in support of BJD. Cent percent Sarpanchs and Samiti Members are also in support of BJD. Some BJP Zilla Parishad members have meanwhile defected to BJD,” he revealed.
In his media reactions today, senior BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Pradipta Naik said, “Our party programmes and activities are always on move. Till now our membership drive and other activities are underway. Hence, we are ready to fight whenever the Bijepur by-election is held.”
“In the last general election, our party candidate has bagged 55,000 votes even though he fought against Naveen Babu (Odisha Chief Minister). Whoever be the candidate from BJD this time, we are going to win,” he asserted.
On the other hand, senior Congress MLA Suresh Kumar Routray said, “Congress is a 140 years old party. Whatever development has been done in the country, credit goes to Congress. We will have a good fight there (Bijepur). We’ll field a local candidate. There is no question of security forfeit in the Bijepur election.”
“A committee has been formed for selection of candidate. We’ll all go there for campaigning,” he stated.