Bhubaneswar: With less than a year left for the general elections, all three major political parties in the state—BJD, Congress and BJP have started brainstorming over their candidates for the next polls.
Speculations are rife that the state may go for early poll as the Modi government is said to be thinking on this line as well. A recent statement of the Chief Election Commissioner OP Rawat has added fuel to such speculations.
Rawat stated that the Election Commission (EC) is capable of conducting Lok Sabha polls in December along with Assembly polls in four states- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Rajasthan.
Sources said the ruling party has collected ground level information about sitting MLAs and MPs. It has conducted an internal survey of all assembly and parliamentary constituencies to know the popularity of the incumbent members, the sources added.
The party is also looking at the performance of its members over last four years. The party leadership is acutely aware of the reactions or possible impact on the party if a ticket is denied to a sitting MLA or MP, the source said.
According to sources, sitting MLAs with a very strong base in their constituencies would be given green signal before the completion of the monsoon session of the Assembly next month. Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik may talk to such MLAs very soon, they added.
BJD spokesperson Debashis Samantray said, “We are in power. So, we cannot announce the names earlier. As regards ticket distribution, only the party chief will take a decision and talk about this.”
Congress is not far behind in this as the party has decided to finalise at least 50 MLA candidates by August end. It has already announced tickets to all 15 sitting MLAs while the party is sympathetically considering the cases of those who lost the last polls with a slender margin.
Its state in-charge Jitendra Singh has already held a one-to-one meeting with 25 such leaders while screening of others will be done very soon, sources in the party said. “The Pradesh Election Committee (PEC) will send a list of 50 candidates to the screening committee by this month end. After that, the Central Election Committee (CEC) will take a call on it,” PCC chief Niranjan Patnaik said.
This will help MLA candidates get enough time to strengthen their base at the grassroots level. The saffron party seems to be a little slow in this exercise. Even as the party held several meetings in this regard, its state unit has not taken a decision on selection of candidates yet.
“We have started the process much ahead. We have gathered information based on an internal survey, public opinion and other sources to prepare a draft list of candidates,” BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said.
Although no senior BJP leader is willing to talk about the issue in public, sources in the party said the BJP will wait for the Congress and the BJD to announce their candidate lists first before it makes public its list of candidates. The party may be planning to rope in rebel Congress and BJD leaders as it had done in Bijepur by-poll.