Berhampur: The ruling BJD has achieved absolute majority in recent three-tier rural polls to different Zilla Parishad (ZP) zones in Ganjam. In such a situation, debates are on pertaining to the selection of chairperson candidate for ZP in the district.
Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik is to take a final call in this regard. However, a number of aspirants are in the fray.
A source said that candidates of the party have won in as many as 67 zones out of a total of 69 and created a record. Even as almost half of the seats were reserved for women candidates, six more (41 in total) have been elected from different blocks.
Post of chairperson was earlier reserved for women candidates. The date to conduct polls to the post has been fixed for March 13.
It is pertinent to mention here that the district previously had Ganjam Zilla Board which enjoyed enormous power following the formation of independent erstwhile state of Orissa.
All policies relating to Ganjam district were then being formulated and programmes were chalked out on the Board. It had noted presidents like eminent freedom-fighter Dibakar Pattanayak, Dinabandhu Behera and the former ruler of Khallikote Ramachandra Mardaraj Deo.
Multi-faceted development works were taken up in the district during those days. Subsequently, the board withered away and power was handed over to the district administration.
After long years, the Ganjam Zilla Parishad was formed in 1997.
First election to the post of members and chairperson were held with party symbols and the post of chairperson was reserved for general category women candidates.
Despite having majority, Congress party had lost the election to the post of chairperson due to internal bickering.
Keeping in mind the then existing political equations, a coalition was formed between erstwhile Janata Dal, BJP and CPI. With the support of an independent candidate, a candidate from Janata Dal Renubala Pradhan who was elected from Digapahandi block in Ganjam became the chairperson.
A winning BJD candidate in the recently concluded three-tier rural polls named Rajeswari Dora from zone No-53 of Rangeilunda block in the district was also elected from the same zone at that time as a Congress party candidate.
Rajeswari had lost the post of ZP chairperson to Renubala of the Janata Dal. Later on, after Renubala was sent to Rajya Sabha by BJD in 2008, Rajeswari left Congress and joined the former party.
Post of chairperson has been reserved for women candidates for the second time after a long lapse of around 25 years.
In the first election held under BJD rule for the Ganjam ZP in 2002, the party had single largest majority. A candidate named Rebati Mohan Nayak who had won from Buguda block of present Polsara Assembly segment and former Jagannathprasad Assembly constituency of the district became the chairperson.
In 2007, a young BJD leader elected from Rangeilunda block under Gopalpur Assembly constituency was made Ganjam ZP chairperson. Eventually, he lost the post following a no-confidence motion that was brought against him and later Kamaraju Sethi became the chairperson when he got elected in a bypoll.
Similarly in 2012, as BJD emerged as the single largest majority party in the three-tier rural polls, its candidate Surath Pradhan elected from Kabisuryanagar was shortlisted for the post of chairperson.
Likewise in 2017, BJD candidate Subash Chandra Behera elected from Chhatrapur Assembly segment became the chairperson. Behera resigned after he was elected as MLA from the same constituency in the next general elections.
Following a by-election, Sonam Palei elected from Khallikote block was made the ZP chairperson. This time, she has again won from the same zone.
It is said that the women candidates, especially, who have won from Hinjili, Bhanjanagar, Sanakhemundi, Chikiti, Aska and Sorada are the prominent ones among all aspirants.