JAIPUR: Winning both Korei and Bari Assembly seats under Jajpur Parliamentary constituency has turned into a prestige issue for the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).This time, the party has fielded new faces in both the Assembly segments replacing their sitting MLAs. Both the incumbent legislators- Debasish Nayak of Bari and Akash Das Nayak of Korei were denied party tickets. They were replaced by fresh faces- Sunanda Das and Ashok Bal in Bari and Korei respectively. The ruling party is leaving no stone unturned to retain Bari, which has been in its fold since 2000 and Korei, which it has managed to retain since 2004.
Unlike the previous elections, BJD is faced with numerous challenges. The sitting MLAs of the constituencies, who were hoping to be re-nominated, are unlikely to support the new candidates whole-heartedly. Both Debasish and Akash are popular leaders and have large support base. The BJD’s performance in the last panchayat elections in both the Assembly constituencies is also a worrying factor for the party. The polls did not only witness a decline in the vote share of the BJD, it also lost control over both the blocks. While Congress formed the panchayat samiti in Korei block, BJP snatched the post of block chairman from the ruling party in Bari.
Unlike in other constituencies, Congress has developed its organisational base in Korei. The BJP too has strengthened its network in Bari block. “The vote share of the BJD may come down in both the Assembly seats due to discontentment among workers over ticket selection, strengthening of the saffron party organization and network and depletion in pocket votes of the old guards. These factors may mar the prospects of the BJD,” said Suryakanta, a poll analyst.
However, a senior BJD leader of Jajpur exuded confidence about his party performing well in all seven Assembly segments including Bari and Korei.The new contestants’ fight against adverse circumstances and whether they can turn the tide in their favour is being closely watched.