BJP awaits BJD’s pick for Bari Assembly seat

The BJD has to choose between Sunanda and Biswaranjan. The BJP is eyeing the sitting MLA if she doesn’t get the ticket
Bari sitting MLA Sunanda Das
Bari sitting MLA Sunanda Das

BHUBANESWAR : It is a Catch-22 situation for the BJD and the BJP so far as selection of candidates for the Bari Assembly seat under Jajpur parliamentary constituency is concerned.

Despite retaining the seat for five consecutive terms since 2000, the ruling BJD seems to be in a dilemma whether to repeat sitting MLA Sunanda Das or to nominate Biswaranjan Mallick who quit the BJP and joined the regional party after losing the 2019 election to the former.

It has been more than one-and-half months since four-time BJD MLA from Bari and former minister Debasis Nayak joined the BJP but his fate hangs in balance as the saffron party is also eyeing Sunanda to jump ship if she is denied a ticket by the regional outfit. It is waiting for the BJD to name its candidate first so that it can make a choice between Sunanda and Nayak.

“Given a choice between Debasis and Sunanda the latter would be better as she is the sitting MLA and has a support base. The former minister has lost touch with the constituency since long,” sources said.

In fact, Sunanda started her political career from BJP but she quit the party to join BJD which made her the panchayat samiti chairperson of Bari block. After Nayak fell out with the BJD leadership, she got the Assembly ticket for Bari seat in 2019.

Sources said, Sunanda has become aware that she may not be repeated this time and the ticket may go to Mallick. She has also reportedly sent feelers to the BJP that she is ready to accept nomination if the saffron party will consider her for the seat, they said.

Mallick proved his political mettle in 2014 election as a 31-year-old when he took on Debasis as an Independent candidate and garnered 52,627 (39.11 per cent) votes against 59,800 (44.44 per cent) votes of the MLA. He stood as a BJP candidate in 2019 and gave BJD’s Sunanda a run for her money by securing 68,497 (45.58 per cent) votes as against 72,559 (48.28 per cent) of the ruling party. He, however, switched allegiance to the BJD soon after the election with an eye on 2024.

Similar is the situation in Kakatapur Assembly seat, another stronghold of the BJD, where the BJP is waiting for the ruling party to name its candidate first as it has no credible face for the constituency. The BJD will have to make a choice between sitting MLA and minister Tusharkanti Behera and three-time former MLA Surendra Sethi. The BJP is ready to nominate any of the two who is denied the BJD ticket, party sources said.

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