Half of Odisha seats may see fresh BJD faces

Half of Odisha seats may see fresh BJD faces

Former Biju Janata Dal MP Baijayant Jay Panda greets BJP national president Amit Shah after joining Bharatiya Janata Party. PTI file photo.

The ruling BJD in Odisha is contemplating fielding new faces in more than half the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the state during the upcoming simultaneous polls.

According to party sources, the party high command has already begun a detailed exercise in this regard.

The Naveen Patnaik-led regional outfit had a cakewalk during the 2014 twin polls by capturing as many as 20 out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 117 out of the 147 Assembly seats.

The party, which is yet to taste defeat after its inception nearly 22 years back, will have to select new candidates for two key Lok Sabha constituencies of Kendrapara and Aska.

The industrialist-turned-politician Baijayant Panda, who had won the Kendrapara seat in 2014 on a BJD ticket, has crossed over to BJP. Ladu Kishore Swain, who won the Aska seat for the party in 2014, passed away recently.

Highly placed BJD sources told DH that a search for suitable candidates for both seats in on.

Both seats are important to the BJD because of their association with the Patnaik family. While Kendrapara was the turf of BJD founder Biju Patnaik, Aska is Naveen's forte.

Naveen has won the Aska Lok Sabha seat thrice, in 1996 (in a bypoll), 1998 and 1999.

Since 2000, he has been a member of the Legislative Assembly, even then from Hinjili, one of the seven Assembly segments under the Aska Lok Sabha constituency.

The regional outfit is unlikely to field its sitting MP from the tribal Mayurbhanj constituency Rama Chandra Hansda again, as he is a convict in a multi-crore chit fund scam.

Another constituency that BJD needs a new candidate in is the coastal seat of Dhenkanal, as its MP Tathagata Satpathy recently announced his retirement from active politics.

Other important Lok Sabha seats where BJD may field fresh faces are Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Sundergarh and Berhampur.