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BJD faces tough fight in Umerkote

BHUBANESWAR: The by-election to the Umerkote Assembly seat will be a test of the popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and h..

News18test sharma |

Updated:November 7, 2011, 12:39 PM IST
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BJD faces tough fight in Umerkote
BHUBANESWAR: The by-election to the Umerkote Assembly seat will be a test of the popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and h..

BHUBANESWAR: The by-election to the Umerkote Assembly seat will be a test of the popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his Government as hectic search for candidate is on by the ruling BJD and the opposition Congress. The ensuing by-poll is likely to be tough for the BJD which is banking on the sympathy factor after murder of party’s sitting MLA Jagabandhu Majhi. In search of winning candidate, the nomination of Dharmu Gond as the official candidate of the BJP has made the task all the more difficult for the BJD leadership. In the absence of a prominent candidate, the BJD is weighing many options. Nominating the wife or a close relative of the slain MLA is one of the options. The Chief Minister, also the BJD president, has set up a search committee to recommend names of a few suitable candidates for selection.  While the Nabarangpur district unit of the Congress is a divided house, State leadership is equally non-committal on the candidature of former MLA Parama Pujari. Even if Pujari is nominated, she will face opposition from within. The BJP by announcing the name of Gond as party candidate ahead of the rival political parties gave him more time to put his organisational structure in place and take up his campaign early. A law graduate, Gond has got a clean image. A popular leader among his community and other tribal groups in the segment, he has a strong support base within the Bengali settlers who traditionally oppose the Congress. The BJP candidate received maximum votes from them in the last general election as the slain BJD leader was very unpopular. He was first nominated for the seat in the 1995 Assembly election which he lost to Pujari of the Congress. He, however, a gave a good fight in the 2000 election but lost by a slender margin. He, however, tasted success in the 2004 election when the BJP was an alliance partner of the BJD. Though it is advantage Gond, he is not getting the right kind of support from the party. While fund is a major constraint, there is no election strategy at the State- level on how to counter the BJD, sources in the party said. Instead of going to Umerkote, top  functionaries of the party are in Berhampur for the last two days attending a regional meeting of the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangha which is not very important.

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