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Churning begins in Odisha BJP to choose candidate for Kandhamal LS seat bypoll

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 16:

Even as the BJP’s Odisha in-charge Arun Singh is busy collecting opinions and suggestions from the leaders and grassroots level party functionaries in the seven assembly constituencies that fall under the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat today, there is suspense over who would finally get the party ticket for the by-poll to be held on October 15.

bjp logoOne of the major contenders for the party ticket this time is senior leader Ashok Sahu who had contested the seat unsuccessfully in 2009 and was shifted to Puri in the last election.

Sahu has been using his Twitter handle to promote his cause and as well as impress upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is a great user of Twitter.

Sahu’s Twitter post on September 8 read, “BJP has an opportunity in Odisha to win the consequent by-election in Kandhamal provided right candidate is given the Party ticket”.

Similarly on Monday, just a day before today’s meeting by party in-charge of Odisha affairs Arun Singh, Sahu tweeted “BJP should field a suitable candidate in Kandhamal, who can bring victory to the party and for whom workers can fight”.

The BJP candidate from Kandhamal in 2009 followed it up with two more tweets on Tuesday afternoon as pravari Arun Singh was rounding off confabulations on the prospective candidate this time.

The  first of the two tweets to Modi, posted at 12.26 pm said; “Odisha Kandhmal loksabha chunao kshetra se upachunao hona hai. mujhe ticket nahin deneke karan udhar se bhajapa nen jamanat khoya.” (By-election has been scheduled for the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat. BJP lost its deposit last time because I was not given the ticket.”)

“Is baar mujhe ticket milne se Bhajapa ka paksh mein jeet ka ummid hai. Kandhmal mein abki baar jeetna jaruri hai. pranam,” (If I am am given the ticket this time, BJP has a strong chance of winnig. We must win in Kandhamal this time. Regards”), said the second posted at 12.30 pm.

Sahu, who is seen as a hardliner, is perceived to be close to Union minister Jual Oram, something that may not be to the liking of the state party president, K.V. Singhdeo.

Speaking to reporters before the party meeting, Arun Singh said the party will be fielding a strong candidate for the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat.

“I will be speaking to the people from Kandhamal who have been invited today for a meeting. However, the final decision over the selection of the candidate will be taken at the election committee meeting scheduled on September 20. It will be a collective decision.”

The BJP’s state in-charge said Kandhamal is among the least developed of the districts in Odisha and his party will be choosing a candidate who is conversant with Kandhamal’s issues and problems.

He said the problems of unemployment was acute in the district and the farmers’ problems were too many.

Party insiders said Kandhamal, with its huge chunk of tribal population and communally volatile nature, remains a highly sensitive constituency where poll campaigns need to be carefully planned.

The BJP, which tried to whip up sentiments over the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmananand Saraswati during the 2009 election, may not find it easy to use the communal rhetoric anymore since the party is in power at the Centre, they added.