BJP election: Basanta Panda front-runner for top post - The New Indian Express

BJP election: Basanta Panda front-runner for top post

Published: 28th November 2012 11:42 AM

Last Updated: 28th November 2012 11:42 AM

The organisational election of the BJP’s State unit is getting murkier with Basanta Panda, vice-president and State election officer, emerging as a front-runner for party president post.

Panda, who is conducting the organisational poll as state returning officer, resigned from the post mid-way only to contest for the top post, sources in the party said.

“I have relieved myself from the organisational election charge and  communicated this to the central election officer (CEO) of BJP TC Gehlot,” Panda told this paper.

On whether he will contest for the president post, Panda said he is not in the race. “I will accept whatever responsibility is given to me by the party,” he added.

While State general secretary Nayan Mohanty is considered to be the front- runner for the top post, the group opposed to him is strongly backing Panda.

A 23-member team comprising mostly district returning officers left for New Delhi on Tuesday to meet Gehlot. Their contention would be that Panda being the State returning officer is likely to influence the organisational districts, where election has been completed.  “A fair election would not be possible if Panda is allowed to contest for the  president post,” sources close to Mohanty told this paper.

In a desperate bid to have their sway over the party, the State leadership of the BJP is making a last-ditch effort to stop a direct contest for the top post. The party witnessed direct contest once in 1997 when senior leader BB Harichandan was locked in a bitter fight with Jual Oram, the incumbent president.

The organisational election has been completed in 22 districts while polls to 10 districts have been suspended by Gehlot, following complaints of irregularities in the membership drive. Other five districts could not qualify for election.

A sizeable section of the party, including the BJP legislators and former MLAs, is supporting KV Singhdeo, leader of the BJP Legislature Party, for the post of president.

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