New Delhi: Naveen Patnaik’s BJD sprung a few surprises in the candidates’ list released for the upcoming Odisha Assembly elections which will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in four phases from April 11 to 29.
Here are the top 10 takeaways from the list:
- Four-time Odisha chief minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik changed strategy and will contest from two assembly seats for the first time in his 19-year career.
- Patnaik will contest from Hinjli in Ganjam district, a constituency he has been representing in the last four elections since 2000 and winning with impressive margins. He will also contest from Bijepur in Bargarh district for the first time.
- Crucially, the last by-election in Odisha was held in Bijepur. BJD candidate Rita Sahu defeated BJP’s Ashok Panigrahi by nearly 42,000 votes, a shot in the arm for the party that had suffered setbacks in the local zilla panchayat elections.
- Additionally, Naveen Patnaik's candidature from Bijepur is expected to neutralise the growing influence of both the BJP and the Congress in western Odisha and have a ripple effect on the adjoining parliamentary constituencies as well. Bargarh parliamentary constituency is one big hope for the BJP, the party having lost the seat by a narrow margin of just over 11,000 votes in 2014. It has been represented by the Congress before.
- Incidentally, late RN Singh Deo was the first and last chief minister from the western part of the state and Patnaik contesting from the western part is expected to consolidate the BJD here.
- Of the nine candidates for Lok Sabha elections, three are women and just one sitting MP, Kalikesh Singh Deo from Bolangir, has found a place. Eight sitting MPs are missing from the list.
- Of the three women, Pramila Bisoi who is BJD’s candidate from the prestigious Aska constituency was handpicked by the chief minister himself. After her release of the list, Patnaik also sent out a tweet, hailing her candidature.
#MissionShakti is now a silent revolution transforming lives of more than 70 lakh women. The choice of Smt Pramila Bisoi from #Aska Lok Sabha seat, from where I started my political journey, is a fitting tribute to millions of @mission_shakti women.#MissionShaktiToSansad pic.twitter.com/3xoObVcFMt— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) March 19, 2019
BJD’s candidate for the Aska assembly constituency is also a woman. Majula Swain is the wife of former BJD MP Lado Kishore Swain.
- Sunita Biswal, daughter of former Congress chief minister Hemanada Biswal, joined the BJD only recently and will contest from Sundergarh. Incidentally, Sundergarh is the lone seat won by BJP's Jual Oram in 2014 elections.
- Patnaik has replaced sitting MP Jhinia Hikaka with his wife Kaushalya Hikaka, who will contest from Koraput.
- Ten of the 54 BJD candidates declared for Assembly elections are women.