Many Biju Janata Dal(BJD) rebels who either had quit the party or had been sacked by the regional outfit for anti-party activities have been given tickets by the BJP to contest the coming assembly elections in Odisha.
The saffron party has so far declared its candidates for 100 out 147 assembly constituencies in the state along with 10 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats. Odisha will go for simultaneous assembly as well as parliamentary elections in four phases starting on April 11.
Prominent BJD rebels who would be fighting the assembly polls on BJP tickets include former minister Damodar Rout who recently joined the saffron brigade in New Delhi. The political heavyweight was dropped from the regional outfit last year for making anti-party statements.
In 2014, Rout was elected to the state assembly on a BJD ticket from Paradip constituency in coastal Jagatsinghpur district. However, this time the BJP has given him a ticket to fight from Balikuda-Ersama seat in the same district. Party sources said the senior leader had himself requested for a constituency change.
A strong and vehement critic of BJD chief and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Rout is likely to be used by the BJP to spew venom against Patnaik across the state during the campaign for the ensuing polls. In fact, he was recently flown down to Bijepur in western Odisha Bargarh district to address a public meeting organised by the local BJP unit. The western seat is one of the two assembly constituencies the chief minister is going to fight in the coming polls.
In some assembly constituencies, however, the local BJP cadres have already revolted against the party's decision to grant tickets to BJD rebels. A case in point is Ekamra-Bhubaneswar, one-off three assembly constituencies in the state capital where the BJP has nominated Babu Singh, a recent BJD deserter as its candidate. Acknowledging the disenchantment, party leaders said the problem will be sorted out very shortly.