PURI: Absence of its traditional rivals in Puri, Brahmagiri and Pipili Assembly segments this time has forced ruling BJD to re-think its strategies to take on its new poll adversaries.
BJD candidate for Pipili Pradip Maharathy will be facing Ajit Mangaraj of Congress after his traditional rival Yudhistir Samantaray turned down the grand old party’s ticket to fight the polls. In the six election fights between Samantray and Maharathy, the former has been able to win only once in 1995.
Samantray pulled out of the poll fray expressing his disappointment over the manner in which finalisation of his candidature was delayed. He also alleged irregularities in selection of party candidates. While his decision shocked his supporters, Samantray maintained that he would not join any other party but devote his strength for Congress.
Left red-faced, the Congress fielded Mangaraj in a damage control exercise. Mangaraj had unsuccessfully contested the last elections from Pipili as an Independent and secured around 20,000 votes. With the change in political equation now, Maharathy has been compelled to change his poll plans.
Similarly, former Puri legislator Umaballav Rath, considered a traditional competitor of BJD’s Maheswar Mohanty, has moved to Athagarh, his native constituency, after getting thrashed by the latter in five elections. Mohanty had made his debut in 1990 as a Janata Dal nominee.
The Congress too has fielded new face Auro Prasad Mishra, a young engineer, from Puri. The BJP has also changed its candidate for the seat. Instead of Krushna Chandra Panda, it has fielded former BJD chairperson of Puri municipality Jayant Kumar Sarangi, who joined the saffron party a couple of days back after being denied BJD ticket from Satyabadi.
In Brahmagiri, BJD candidate Sanjay Dasburma will not be facing his tradition rival Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mahapatra (Lulu), who passed away last year. Instead, it is going to be Lulu’s brother Lalitendu, who is the nominee of BJP.
Sources said Dasburma has made preparations anticipating Lalitendu’s nomination and is depending on Maheswar Mohanty, who holds a command over 11 gram panchayats under Puri that were added to Brahmagiri.