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    BJD to start picking candidates

    BHUBANESWAR: The BJD will start the  candidates’ selection for the zilla parishad (ZP) polls on Monday. Aspirants have been asked to submit their applications at the district offices. The BJD is expected to field candidates in all the ZP seats except for some minor adjustments at the local level. There will, however, be no alliance with any party at the State level. Sources said the MLAs will have major say in the selection of candidates and distribution of tickets. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has described the panchayat polls ‘mid-term examination’ for ministers, MLAs and senior leaders. Performance in the panchayat polls will have a bearing on the fate of MLAs in the party. However, MLAs and leaders, not pulling on well with the party leadership, will not be given a free hand for selection of candidates. Two former ministers __ Damodar Rout and Debasis Nayak __ are likely to be  rehabilitated as per present indications.  Rout was asked to share the dais with Naveen at the 14th Foundation Day function of the BJD on December 26. Nayak, who was suspended from the party after criticising Naveen’s style of functioning, is reported to be getting closer to him. But Naveen’s attitude towards these two leaders will be clear from the selection of candidates. There are also several other MLAs with whom the leadership may not entrust the task of selecting candidates.CENTRAL NEGLECT POLL PLANK: Meanwhile, Naveen has reverted to his pet theme of Central neglect as the main plank for the panchayat polls. The latest salvo from Naveen is the demand for a legislation by the Centre to impose 50 per cent tax on super normal profits made by mine owners. Odisha will gain by lakhs of crores of rupees if the Centre enacts such a law as suggested, Naveen had said and added that delay in revision of royalty on minerals by the Centre has cost the State thousands of crores of rupees. The Chief Minister has also submitted a lengthy wishlist for the State to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi keeping an eye on 2012-13 Railway Budget. Naveen has demanded a package for Odisha, including proposals for enhanced provisions for the ongoing projects, sanctioning of new lines, surveys, introduction of 12 new trains, extension and increase in frequency of existing mail/express trains and improved passenger amenities at stations and on- board. Senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra, however, said the State Government has failed to spend money sanctioned by the Centre for welfare schemes and large-scale irregularities have come to surface.