Sambalpur BJP MP’s wife, son join BJD

Arundhati Devi, wife of Sambalpur MP Nitesh Ganga Deb and Deogarh king, on Tuesday, joined the BJD along with their son Naman Ganga Deb
Arundhati Ganga Deb, son Naman meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday
Arundhati Ganga Deb, son Naman meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday Photo| Express

BHUBANESWAR: In a major setback to the BJP, Arundhati Devi, wife of Sambalpur MP Nitesh Ganga Deb and Deogarh king, on Tuesday joined the BJD along with their son Naman Ganga Deb at the Naveen Niwas here in the presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The joining of the Deogarh queen and her son in the BJD is significant for the Sambalpur LS seat which is witnessing a direct contest between senior BJP leader and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and BJD organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das. Pradhan has replaced Ganga Deb as the BJP candidate from the parliamentary constituency.

Sources in the BJD claimed that induction of the queen has provided another option for the regional party in the faction-ridden Sambalpur Assembly segment. The party had fielded senior leader Prasanna Acharya from the seat with a hope that this will help in keeping a balance between different factions. But the situation has further complicated with Acharya declining to contest from the seat. Besides, fielding of Acharya from the seat has further aggravated the situation with local aspirants considering him an outsider.

The BJD leadership is yet to respond to the request of Acharya to change his constituency to Rairakhol. In the event, he opts out of the contest, the leadership may also field Arundhati from the Sambalpur Assembly seat.

Sources said, the BJD leadership is also considering another option. The alternative is to field the queen or her son from the Deogarh Assembly seat which is now represented by Subash Panigrahy of BJP.

BJD sources claimed that the step has been taken to strengthen the position in Sambalpur and Deogarh as well as the Sambalpur LS seat. However, some local BJD leaders are of the opinion that this move is not going to resolve the problems faced by the regional outfit in the parliamentary constituency.

A local leader told this paper that the fight has now turned into ‘We vs Katakias’ because of nomination of BJD organisational secretary Das from the Lok Sabha seat. “Sambalpurias vs Outsiders is a strong emotion in the district who even consider people of Bargarh and Balangir as outsiders. If the royal issue is involved, this may create further problems for the party in the LS seat”, he said.

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