Bhubaneswar/ Pipili, April 19: Though there is likely to be a tough fight between ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the upcoming by-poll to the Pipili Assembly constituency, Congress is likely to field deceased Ajit Mangaraj’s wife Bandana for the by-poll.
Though the grand old party is yet to announce its candidate for the by-poll, senior Party leader and Jatani MLA Suresh Routray has hinted at Bandana Mangaraj’s likely candidature. Although, Congress’ performance was very poor in the 2019 Assembly election, Bandana’s candidature is likely to split BJD’s sympathy votes to be garnered in the wake of death of seven-time MA Pradeep Maharathy.
Who will benefit?
During the 2019 Assembly election, Maharathy had won the seat with 88,518 (50.66%), defeating his nearest rival BJP’s Ashrit Pattanayak, who had secured 72,731 (41.62%) polls. However, deceased Mangaraj had finished third with less than 10,000 votes (vote share of 5.63 percent.
This time, the BJP and Congress renominated Ashrit Pattanayak and Ajit Mangaraj respectively. However, Ajit Mangaraj died of Corona three days before the bypoll. Now, the Election Commission has rescheduled the bypoll date by giving a chance to Congress to nominate a new candidate in place of its deceased nominee.
If Congress fields Bandana, she may grab few extra sympathy votes, which will split BJD votes, feel the political observers. . However, ruling BJD is on the front foot to get sympathy for Rudra Maharathy after the demise of his father Pradeep Maharathy, ruling BJD leaders exude confidence.
Meanwhile, demand is growing within the Congress to field Bandana as the party nominee. Sura Routray said that all the Congress leaders in Pipili want that Mangaraj’s wife should be fielded in the bypoll. Moreover, Congress presidents of Pipili and Delang blocks have also supported the proposal.