BHUBANESWAR: The rebel factor worries Congress ahead of by-election to Bijepur Assembly seat with former minister Ripunath Seth yet to reconcile to the fact that his son was not nominated by the party to contest.
A dissatisfied Seth met president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik to express resentment over selection of Dilip Panda as Congress candidate for the by-poll instead of his son. After meeting Patnaik here, Seth said he will campaign for the party in the by-poll. “Who is Dilip Panda (Congress candidate)? I will campaign for Congress in Bijepur,” he said.
Seth, who contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Bijepur, could poll only 14,344 votes. Patnaik, however, said Seth was not interested for ticket. “He wanted ticket for his son,” the OPCC president said and added that the former minister was not assigned any responsibility in the constituency as he is not a zonal level leader. “Should Seth be confined to some gram panchayats in by-poll? As he had contested election from the constituency in the past, he should campaign in the entire area,” he said.
Discontentment has also come to the fore in the BJP with former MLA and party’s candidate in the 2018 by-election Ashok Panigrahi claiming that the party is ignoring him. Stating that the party has not given him any responsibility in the by-poll, Panigrahi said he was also ignored during the 2019 Assembly election. “However, my supporters had campaigned for the party candidate in the Assembly election, but this time a decision in this regard is yet to be taken,” he said.
Panigrahi also did not deny the possibility of joining the BJD. “I will do as per the decision taken by my workers and supporters,” he said. Responding to Panigrahi, Leader of the Opposition and senior BJP leader Pradipta Kumar Naik said, “He should not be upset over not getting ticket. But he will be at a loss if he sits at home.”
Though the ruling BJD is not free from the rebel problem, the party on Thursday claimed that all senior leaders have joined hands to ensure a bigger victory margin for the party candidate Rita Sahu who faces Sanat Gartia of BJP and Dilip Panda of Congress in the by-poll.