Berhampur: The ruling Biju Janata Dal has fielded new faces for the upcoming Zilla Parishad polls in Ganjam district with an aim to cash in on their clean image during the elections, a report said.
The move has sparked sharp resentment among the party members and longtime associates as they were found sulking and pondering over their next move.
As the high-decibel campaign picks up for the polls, these splinter groups are likely to turn the fortunes against the party and dent its prospects in the polls.
The district has 69 Zilla Parishad zones, out of which 50 per cent seats have been reserved for the women. Many of the party’s women members who had won in the 2017 polls have been denied a ticket this time.
However, they have remained tight-lipped fearing disciplinary action against them by the party high command.
Notably, BJD had registered a onesided victory by winning in 64 out of 69 zones in the last polls.
Election observers apprehend that this time the party might not score so well and its margin is likely to go down as the senior leaders have been left neglected during ticket distribution.
The party might get a majority but its margin is likely to go down in comparison to last panchayat polls. The party has a district office in Berhampur.
However, the details of the nominated candidates are not available with the party leaders. What has surprised many is that even the district president does not have a list of candidates for all the 69 zones.
When contacted, BJD district president Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik said that the state party unit has given the tickets to the MLAs who are distributing the same among the nominated candidates in their respective areas.
Prafulla Mallick, state minister of steel and mines has been appointed as the district observer for the upcoming panchayat polls. Meanwhile, Mallick visited Berhampur and conducted a review of the upcoming polls.
He stressed on repeating the victory of 2017 polls this year too and advised all the MLAs for proper management of the polls.
On the other hand, the ruling party is laying more stress on winning the zones in Sanakhemundi and Gopalpur Assembly segments. Gopalpur MLA Pradip Panigrahi has been sacked from the party while Sanakhemundi Assembly segment is now with Congress.
The political secretary of Chief Minister Gopabandhu Das is in charge of poll management in Gopalpur which has four Zilla Parishad zones. The saffron party had won from two zones of Gopalpur in 2017 polls but this time the ruling party is trying to wrest all the four zones.
Similarly, Sanakhemundi Assembly segment has four zones out of which three are under Dharakote block and one under Sanakhemundi block. The BJP had won from one zone in the 2017 polls but this time the ruling party is trying to wrest all the four zones.
Bhubaneswar (Central) MLA Ananta Narayan Jena has been appointed as the special observer for Sanakhemundi despite the presence of former local MLA in the area.
Jena is touring Dharakote and Sanakhemundi blocks and reviewing the election management on a day-to-day basis.
Meanwhile, BJP has prepared its own strategy to challenge the ruling BJD while the Congress hopes that it will win more zones than the previous elections.