JAGATSINGHPUR: Damodar Rout is facing a huge issue of acceptance within local BJP unit as he is set to launch his campaign as the party candidate for Balikuda- Erasama Assembly seat. The BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik’s ploy of fielding his son Sambit from the neighbouring Paradip constituency, which Dama himself holds now, has created suspicion in the minds of the grassroot party cadre. Local leaders feel that the senior leader’s affection for his son has taken precedence over his loyalty to BJP. BJP leader of Borikina panchayat Raghunath Swain said, “We had hoped that Dama will get the sympathy of voters as he is contesting in his home turf after 10 years.
However, he has been campaigning across the State for BJP but is yet to start electioneering in favour of the party candidate in Paradip from where his son is contesting as a BJD nominee. This has not gone down well with BJP workers of this constituency.” Another party leader Narayan Das said Dama has not been maintaining any relation with local BJP leaders who have been working to strengthen organisation in both Erasama and Balikuda blocks. “Since he is ignoring party leaders, there is a discontent brewing in the local BJP unit. BJP workers had also skipped Dama’s nomination rally recently. If he does not mend his ways, BJP is likely to bite the dust in the seat in the elections,” he added.
Lokanath Sahoo, a voter, said, “Dama is not showing any sign of being a BJP candidate for the constituency. His affection for his son in Paradip is apparent and people of Balikuda-Erasama have understood his intentions.” BJP State Executive member Priyaranjan Das, who was also a ticket aspirant from the seat, said the party had expected to wrest Balikuda-Erasama from BJD. “Since Dama’s candidature was not accepted by the local BJP supporters, I had suggested the senior leader to intensify campaigning in favour of BJP candidate in Paradip. It would have brought about a change in the mood of party workers. However, it seems he did not pay any heed to my proposal,” he added. Dama has represented Balikuda- Erasama for five times - 1977, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2004. After the delimitation, he contested from Paradip and won twice in 2009 and 2014. The constituency will go to polls on April 29.