Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held a discussion with members of Binjhal tribe ahead of announcing BJD candidate for Dec 5 by poll to Padmapur seat as significant number of constituency voters belong to the community .
The by-election was necessitated by the death of MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha on October 3.
Community members were considered adherents of Bariha, who was elected five times from Padmapur and was from the tribal group.
During the meeting with the prime minister on Sunday, community members made it clear that they would only support Bariha’s wife Tilotama or one of his daughters as the ruling party’s candidate, Binjal Samaj president Hrushikesh Bariha said.
“We have told the Prime Minister that the community will support BJD if she nominates Bariha’s wife. If one of his daughters gets the ticket, we have no problem. But other relatives like his cousin or daughter-in-law (his cousin’s wife) are not accepted,” he said.
Ashwini Bhoi, a member of Binjhal Samaj who was part of the team meeting the prime minister, said the BJD candidate would win the by-poll if the party recruited Bariha’s wife or his daughter.
However, sources in the BJD said the leadership is in a difficult position whether to draft a candidate from the Bariha family or not, as Congress and the BJP nominated two senior politicians for the poll.
Congress hosted three times MLA Satya Bhusan Sahu, while ex-legislator Pardip Purohit got a ticket to the saffron festival.
Some of the BJD leaders believe that Bariha’s wife may not be suitable for the upcoming election, even if she gets sympathy votes.
“The focus is now on two young daughters of Bariha-Barsarani and Kadambini,” said a BJD leader. Meanwhile, Nayagarh’s additional collector Mahendra Badhei has resigned as he aims to get a ticket from the ruling party of the state for the Padmapur poll.
He is projected by another section of leaders in the BJD.
However, all party leaders said they would accept the prime minister’s decision on the selection of the candidate.
The Padmapur poll has become a prestige issue for the ruling BJD after the recent defeat in the Dhamnagar by-election.
In the 2019 Assembly election, Bariha had defeated Purohit by a margin of over 5,500 votes from the Padmapur segment.
Purohit had won the seat in the 2014 election.
Congressional candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu was elected three times from Padmapur in 1980, 1985 and 2004.
Meanwhile, the people of Padmapur reinforced their demands for the establishment of a separate district, supported by all three major parties.
Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari and senior BJD leader Sushant Singh met with the incendiary members of the Padmapur Zilla Kriyanustan Committee on Sunday and invited them to meet with the prime minister.
“The action committee for the establishment of the separate Padmapur district had previously met with the CM and had discussions on the matter. The subdivision of Padmapur covers a vast geographical area. The BJD has full support for the demand to carve out a separate district of Bargarh,” said Singh, a former minister.
BJP MP from Bargarh Suresh Pujari also met the committee members and supported their demand.
“Although the people of Padmapur were previously assured of a separate district, the government has not complied with it,” Puajri said.
Congress MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati said his party will fight for the question.
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