Bhubaneswar: The winning of the Bijepur assembly seat by the ruling Biju Janata Dal in the ensuing bye poll on October 21 may not be a cakewalk, feel the political observers.
Though former MLA Rita Sahu, widow of three-time Congress legislator Subal Sahu, has been chosen as the ruling party’s nominee for the ongoing bye election, she is facing a tough fight from her BJP rival Sanat Gadtia and Congress’s Dillip Panda this time.
Sanat had fought against chief minister Naveen Patnaik during the last general election as BJP candidate and given him a tough fight. He had lost the seat by only 56,000 votes. His renomination as the party nominee this time despite the presence of many ticket aspirants, has increased his political stock within the party circle and the voters as well. Political pundits feel that the ruling party should not underestimate him as he may poll more votes this time and may tilt the applecart.
Of course, former MLA Ashok Panigrahi, who had fought the 2018 bye poll against Rita as BJP candidate, has caused headache for Sanat as he has turned party dissident after being denied party renomination during the recent two polls.
Also to the worry of Rita, Congress state leadership has mended fence with senior Congress leader and former minister Ripunath Seth. Ripunath,who had contested the 2019 general election against chief minister Naveen Patnaik, has been denied renomination thus time. The sulking veteran had therefore decided to stay away from the party campaigning. But the PCC president Niranjan Patnaik, who has managed today to make him join the campaigning for the party nominee.
On the other hand, ruling BJD nominee Rita Sahu, w ho had won the 2018 bye-poll by a 43,000 margin, is not finding smooth sailing this time. The sympathy wave following the untimely death of her husband in 2018 is almost missing this time. With just one year left after her election in 2018 she could not find enough time to prove her efficiency as a legislator.
She is also facing infighting this time, as there were many aspirants to contest the by poll. People of Bijepur are also not excited much as compared to last two polls. During the 2018 by poll, Naveen had imported Rita, widow of departed standing Congress MLA Subal Sahu, to en cash the sympathy wave. He again impressed the voters of Bijepur during 2019 general election by contesting the seat along with his traditional one-Hinjili himself. Naveen won both the seats. But he resigned from Bijepur, which necessitated this by poll. This has not gone well with the people of Bijepur, feel the political observers.