Bijepur to choose MLA for third time in two years | Bhubaneswar News

BHUBANESWAR: The byelection to the Bijepur assembly segment will be held on October 21, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Saturday.
For the ruling BJD, it will be a prestige battle given that chief minister Naveen Patnaik was elected from here but chose to vacate the seat in favour of his usual seat of Hinjili. The BJD president had contested — and won — both Hinjili and Bijepur.
For BJP, it represents the chance to reverse the pattern of split voting that saw it win all five Lok Sabha seats in western Odisha, of which Bijepur is a part, but only eight of the 35 assembly segments in the region during the simultaneous polls held in April-May.
According to the ECI, a notification for the bypoll will be issued on September 23, while the last date for filing nomination is September 30. Counting of votes will be done on October 24.
Interestingly, the segment will elect an MLA for the third time in two years. It elected BJD’s Rita Sahu in a bypoll in February 2018, which was necessitated by the death of her husband and sitting Congress MLA Subal Sahu. Bijepur voted again in the assembly polls in April when Naveen decided to contest the seat.
Long before the ECI’s announcement, political parties had begun preparing for the bypoll. Speculation is rife that BJD will field Rita again. In the 2018 bypoll, she had defeated BJP’s Ashok Panigrahy by more than 42,000 votes. In order to clear the way for Rita’s nomination, BJD has rehabilitated two key aspirants from western Odisha — Subash Chauhan, who has been made the chairman of Western Odisha Development Council, and Prabhat Aditya Mishra, made the chairman of Industrial Promotion & Investment Corporation of Odisha (a state PSU).
The BJD has formed a four-member election coordination committee while BJP has held a series of preparatory meetings. The Congress, too, has formed a panel led by Narasingha Mishra to decide strategies for winning the byelection.
The names of Sanat Gartia, who had unsuccessfully fought the 2019 assembly election on a BJP ticket from the seat, and former MLA Pradeep Purohit, who had lost the 2019 election from Padampur, are doing the rounds as possible candidates from BJP.
Former minister Ripunath Seth, who had contested the last assembly polls from the seat on a Congress ticket, hopes to enter the race again this time or push his son, Abhisek, to the fore, sources said.
In April’s assembly election, Naveen had polled 1,10,166 votes, while BJP’s Sanat got 53,088 votes and Congress’s Rupunath managed 14,249 votes.
State BJP president Basanta Panda said the saffron party was fully prepared to fight the polls with all its organizational strength and was confident of a victory. “The party’s parliamentary board will soon decide the candidate. People’s love for Narendra Modi’s leadership is increasing day by day,” Panda said.
BJD leader Sanjay Das Burma, who is one of the four members of the party’s poll coordination panel for the Bijepur bypoll, sounded equally confident. “People have tremendous faith in Naveen Patnaik’s leadership. They will continue blessing BJD,” Burma said. Senior Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati, too, said his party would ‘do well’ this time.

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