With the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha less than three weeks away, the number of defections by political leaders is going up steadily, there’s one almost every day. However, for the first time in the state, party-hoppers have reaped maximum advantage in the forthcoming polls compared to previous ones.
Considering the winning prospects of these defectors, the leadership of the ruling BJD and the opposition Congress and BJP have gone to the extent of ignoring their own leaders.
The BJD has given a red carpet welcome to several Congress leaders who have jumped the fence. To begin with, the ruling party had no hesitation in allotting the Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat to Sunita Biswal, daughter of former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal. Similarly, the party leadership has not considered the name of Sidhant Mohapatra and instead reposed faith in Congress leader Chandrasekhar Sahu for the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat.
Besides, for the Assembly elections, the BJD has given tickets to Dusmanta Nayak to contest the Bhawanipatna seat, ignoring its candidate Anam Nayak, while another Congress leader, Bhupinder Singh, has been given the ticket to contest the Narla seat in place of local BJD leader Dhaneswar Majhi. For the Berhampur Assembly seat, the BJD has ignored its candidate and four-time MLA Ramesh Chandra Chaupatnaik and handed over the ticket to former Congress leader Bikram Panda.
Apart from this, the BJD has had a political windfall with the joining of two sitting Congress MLAs, Naba Das of Jharsuguda and Jogesh Singh of Sundargarh. They have been given the party ticket to contest from their respective constituencies.
Like the BJD, the BJP, too, has rewarded leaders who have resigned from the BJD.
The saffron party has given the Nabarangpur Lok Sabha ticket to Balabhadra Majhi, Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat to Baijayant Panda and Koraput Lok Sabha seat to Jayaram Pangi. Apart from this, veteran leader Dr Damodar Rout has been given the ticket to contest from his home constituency, Balikuda-Ersama, while Babu Singh will contest the Ekrama-Bhubaneswar Assembly seat. In addition to these, Bhagirathi Sethy, Amar Naik, Goutam Ray, Ashok Dora, Alekh Jena and Purna Chandra Nayak have also been allotted tickets.
Apart from the BJD leaders, the Congress leaders who have defected to the BJP have also been rewarded with party tickets. They are Dhanurjaya Siddhu, Pruthivraj Kanhar, Jaya Narayan Mohanty, Padmalochan Panda, Madhabananda Mallick, Biswaranjan Mallick, Sushant Pradhan and Lalitendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra.
As compared to the BJD and the BJP, the Congress has given tickets to two former BJD leaders. They are Nabin Nanda and Prasant Sethi.