Though the election commission has yet not notified about the by-poll but political parties are gearing up after the demise of standing MLA Subal Sahu from Congress on 22nd August.
The ruling party of the state, BJD is eyeing to capture it after failing successively for last 3 times. Last time it was under BJD in 2000-2004. Since 2004 it loosed to Congress and could not retain though fielded heavyweight like Ex-Minister Prasanna Acharya.
In 2004 BJD & BJP jointly fielded Ashok Panigrahi and lost with a margin of 22,000 votes. He manages to pull 36.16 % of the total registered voters. In 2009 Prabht Aditya Mishra (Piku) was the candidate of BJD from Bijepur and got 47,893 which were 34.45 % of the total registered voters. The winning candidate late Subal Sahu got 56, 864 votes (40.91 % ) in 2009. In 2014, candidate of BJD was changed. The former district President was denied the party ticket, and Ex- Minister Prasanna Acharya was fielded from Bijepur. But BJD failed to capture the seat. Again Subal Sahu was victorious with a narrow margin of 458 votes. Percentage of votes of both Congress and BJD were getting minus.
In last 3 elections the winner was Congress and runners up was BJD. In 2004 BJD got 36.16 %, in 2009, 34.45% and in 2014, 31.88 %. There is a trend of decrease in votes for BJD. The reasons are many but majors are upper caste candidate, and outside candidate as Bijepur is a constituency affluent with OBC voters.
In comparison, percentage of votes of Congress has also declined, in 2004 it got 53.97%, in 2009, 40.91% and in 2014 it got 32.15% only.
The party has given charge to Minister Susant Singh for Bijepur by-poll. After the demise of Congress MLA Subal Sahu they managed to add his family in BJD and also the NAC Chairperson along with members of the Barpali NAC. Again they have declared Ritarani Sahu, wife of late Subal Sahu as BJD candidate. It may work in boosting up the morale for BJD which can help in pulling votes of late Subal Sahu and Congress. And it has certainly weakened the Congress up to a level. As per sources, BJD is eyeing to pull around 75, 000 votes in the by-poll.
Like BJP, internal conflict is there in BJD too. Former BJD district President and candidate from BIjepur (2009) Prabhat Aditya Mishra had rebelled in the recent past. Sources say the supremo of the party Naveen Patnaik managed to appease him. And now the party is saying there is no internal conflict in the party and they are going to fight the election under the leadership of their supremo Naveen Patnaik. But time will say whether the internal conflict will cost the party or it is actually diffused.
Saket Sreebhushan Sahu comments on Politics and Culture.