Bhubaneswar: Ending all speculations, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) named Monday late MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha’s elder daughter Barsha Singh Bariha as the party’s candidate for the December 5 byelection to the Padmapur assembly segment in Bargarh district. Incidentally Barsha is also daughter-in-law of a senior BJP leader.
A release issued by the BJD and signed by party president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “Smt Barsha Singh Bariha, W/O Shri Smruti Sourav Baliarsingh is the Biju Janata Dal candidate for byelections to 01-Padmapur Assembly Constituency.”
Earlier BJD, while announcing its candidate for Dhamnagar bypoll October 12, had just mentioned: “Tihidi block chairperson Smt Abanti Das is the BJD candidate for Dhamnagar by-election. She has long experience in Self Help Group under Mission Shakti.”
There was no mention of Abanti Das’s family background in the BJD’s statement announcing her candidature for Dhamnagar bypoll, a senior BJP leader said adding that the ruling party used its Padmapur bypoll candidate’s husband name deliberately to take political advantage.
The BJD’s candidate selection was based on several permutation and combination, a party leader said. The leader added that apart from being a green horn and a woman, Barsha will get sympathy votes. She is pitted against two heavy weights like BJP’s ex-MLA Pradip Purohjit and Congress nominee and three-time lawmaker Satya Bhusan Sahu.
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At least three members of Bariha family were vying for the party ticket. Besides Barsha, Bariha’s widow Tilottama Singh and younger daughter Kadambini were also keen to contest the bypoll. Name of an OAS officer as the probable BJD candidate was also doing the rounds.
Ahead of announcing party candidate’s name, Patnaik had held discussion with the members of the Binjhal samaj of Padmapur. Late Bijay Ranjan Bariha was elected to Padmapur assembly segment five times and his death October 3 necessitated a by-poll.
“I thank the chief minister for nominating me for the bypoll. My candidature is completely based on the goodwill of my father. I have seen politics from close quarter since childhood. I was born in a political family and also married to a political family,” Barsha (29), a law graduate told reporters Monday.
Barsha’s father-in-law and BJP leader Rama Baliarsingh, also a former MLA, said: “I have best wishes for my daughter-in-law. She is capable and a good person. I all along treat her as my daughter and not daughter-in-law,” Baliarsingh told reporters. However, Baliarsingh did not reveal whether as a BJP leader he would campaign against Barsha.
Baliarsingh, however, said that Padmapur will witness an intense fight as this constituency has a history of voting for no single party for two successive terms. The BJD won the seat in 2000, 2009 and 2019 while Purohit emerged victorious in 2014 on BJP ticket and Congress’ Sahu in 2004. In 2019, Purohit lost the seat by a margin of 5,734 votes while the Congress finished third.
Meanwhile, the all party meeting presided over by Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer SK Lohani decided that the voting in Padmapur will be held from 7.00am to 4.00pm December 5 as the area is Maoist infested. The results are scheduled to be declared December 8.
The last date of filing nomination papers is November 17 while scrutiny of the papers will be held on November 18. The last date of withdrawing candidature is November 21. Barsha meanwhile said she would be filing her nomination November 16.
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