Jharsuguda: As the byelection to Brajarajnagar Assembly segment draws closer, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) got a shot in the arm Friday, when more than 100 party workers of Lakhanpur block joined the regional party at a hotel here. BJP’s district unit executive member Malay Acharya, former sarpanch Tankadhar Pradhan, Basudev Pradhan, Rajkumar Singhdeo, Ganga Pradhan, Dileswar Biswal, Pandari sarpanch Subasini Sahu, Remanda sarpanch Sushant Nayak, Gourang Sahu, women leaders like Dipanjali Bhoi, Sanjukta Sahu among scores of workers joined the ruling party, saying they were inspired by the leadership of party supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
A merger meeting was held under the chairmanship of Jharsuguda MLA and Health Minister Naba Das at a hotel here. Ministers Arun Sahoo, Niranjan Pujari, MP Prasanna Acharya, former minister Snehangini Chhuria, MLA Budhadev Mishra, assistant observer Bishnu Prasad Kedia were present at the meeting. Addressing the meeting, the health minister asserted that people of Brajarajnagar have come together to back the strong leadership of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Meanwhile, the BJD and BJP have stepped up their campaign ahead of the byelection scheduled for May 31 while Congress seems to be lagging behind. BJD’s state women’s wing president Snehagini Chhuria had earlier held a meeting of party leaders at Belpahar. Health Minister Naba Das, party’s district observer and Cuttack Mayor Subhash Singh and deputy observer Bishnu Prasad Kedia held a meeting at Belpahar later, brainstorming on strategies to gain support of voters.
It was learnt that Kishore Mohanty had won the election by a margin of 70,000 votes. The health minister has asserted that party nominee Alaka Mohanty (Kishore’s wife) will win the bypoll by a margin of 50,000 votes. Previous general election in 2019 had witnessed a tough fight between BJD and BJP. For quite a long time, Assembly constituency was a bastion of CPI. The party candidate and former MLA late Prasanna Panda had won this seat six times – 1961, 1967, 1974, 1985, 1990 and 1995. Similarly, Congress candidate Upendra Dixit had represented the Assembly segment three times – 1971, 1977 and 1980. Subsequently, Congress candidate Anup Sai got the mandate three times from 2000 to 2009.
The first bypoll to Brajarajnagar was necessitated following the death of former MLA Panda December 26, 1997. The bypoll had then witnessed a tough contest between Congress candidate Keshab Sahu (who won with 28,476 votes) and BJP candidate Radharani Panda (who lost by 27,954 votes). However, in 2014 general elections, BJP candidate Radharani won the seat by defeating her nearest contender Anup Sai who had this time fought with a BJD ticket. In 2019, the BJD fielded Kishore Mohanty from Brajarajnagar Assembly constituency segment and he won by defeating BJP’s Radharani.