BHUBANESWAR: In a jolt to the Congress ahead of elections, former minister and senior leader Sitakant Mohapatra returned the ticket given by the party to contest from Badachana Assembly constituency.
Mohapatra was elected from Badachana three times in 1980, 1985 and 2004 elections. However, he had not contested the 2014 polls as the party had preferred Janmejaya Lenka over him. The constituency will go to polls on April 29.
Returning the ticket, Mohapatra said he will not be able to contest elections in such a short time. Mohapatra is the second senior Congress leader to return the party ticket. Earlier, former MLA Judhistir Samantray had declined to contest from Pipili on a Congress ticket.Similarly, Satyabrata Patra, who was fielded by Congress from Nimapara Assembly seat, also expressed his unwillingness to contest due to delay in finalisation of his candidature.
Besides these leaders, several others who were fielded by Congress from different constituencies, had expressed their unwillingness to contest polls. They include former chairman of Congress Scheduled Caste cell Bibhu Prasad Tarai who was fielded by the party from Tirtol Assembly seat. Tarai, who defected to BJP, has been fielded by the saffron party from Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency.
Prithvi Ballav Patnaik, son of former chief minister JB Patnaik, had also expressed unwillingness to contest from Begunia. Mukti Kanta Biswal of the Delhi Chalo fame too turned down Congress ticket from Rourkela.
Meanwhile, intense factional fight in Congress over ticket distribution has come to the fore again with frontal organisations targeting president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik for promoting dynastic politics.
Criticising the father-son politics in Congress, Odisha Pradesh Mahila Congress chairperson Sumitra Jena alleged that deserving candidates have been left out. “Niranjan and his son Navjyoti are dominating the party affairs in the State,” she said and added that the duo will get a befitting reply from people in the elections.
Sources, however, said Jena is aggrieved as the party leadership ignored her recommendations for tickets. She had recommended 52 women candidates for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
Members of Odisha Pradesh Youth Congress (OPYC) and Seva Dal also raised a banner of revolt against the OPCC chief over distribution of party tickets.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Monday expelled 19 leaders from Odisha for alleged anti-party activities. These include Tirupati Panigrahy who is contesting from Parlakhemundi Assembly constituency as an Independent.