After the demise of standing MLA Subal Sahu on 22nd August the Bijepur seat is lying vacant. By-election is bound to fill up the vacant seat within 6 months from the date of demise. Though the election commission has yet not notified about the by-poll but political parties are gearing up. The seat was occupied by Congress but now all parties seem to give a tough fight for the post.
The saffron party recently organized a meeting at Barpali where around 5 thousand BJP cadres were gathered to witness heavy weight like Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Jual Oram, State Prabhari Arun Singh, National Secretary Suresh Pujari, State President Basant Panda etc. Though no names were openly discussed in the meeting by anyone yet the joining of Ashok Panigrahi, former MLA Bijepur (2000-2004) has created a ripple. His name has been highlighted in the media as the probable candidate of BJP from Bijepur.
His joining in the party created discord in the party. He was vehemently opposed by District President Narayan Sahu, State Krushak Morcha Vice President Gourahari Mishra, and State Krushak Morcha Secretary Halapani Majhi etc.
But BJP is projecting him as the MLA candidate from Bijepur. He was elected to 12th assembly (29/02/2000-06/02/2004) as the BJD MLA. In 2004, BJD-BJP (Naveen -Vajpayee) coalition fielded Ashok Panigrahi as BJD candidate again from Bijepur and Late Subal Sahu was contesting for the first time and defeated him with a margin of 22000 votes. Ashok Panigrahi was the standing MLA then.
In last general election (2014) he again pursued for the ticket but he was denied as Prasanna Acharya, Ex-Finance Minister was allotted the party ticket. But he fielded himself as an independent candidate and was discarded from the party. In 2014 he got about 18000 votes, which are considered as anti-Prasanna vote. His independent candidature cost the party heavily and BJD lost the election. Many stories surfaces in media about his independent candidature that he fielded himself to defeat Prasanna Acharya as Acharya was opposing him since long.
Now, if BJP is considering him as the candidate then may be playing a risky job. As he was already defeated by Subal Sahu though he was a standing MLA with a margin of 22000 votes and the 18000 votes are not his pocket votes at all which he got in last general election. He was a BJD man, which belong to BJD only and the anti Prasanna votes. Which he gathered opposing Prasanna Achrya.
Now Prasanna Acharya is not the BJD candidate, it is Ritarani Sahu whose late husband defeated him with a margin of 22000 votes in his debut.
Again, Panigrahi’s major vote bank is the Teli caste voters of Gaisilat and Bijepur. Hold on, the Congress candidate is an OBC and the Gaisilat Teli Samaj President is also the Block Congress President. Apart from this Bijepur OBC vote will also tilting towards Congress only. So BJP may introspect.
Saket Sreebhushan Sahu comments on Politics and Culture.