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Hemananda opts out of race in protest

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Sundargarh, Mar 19:

In a surprise move, Sundargarh MP and former chief minister Hemananda Biswal on Tuesday has decided not to contest the ensuing Lok Sabha elections in Odisha.

Hemananda Biswal
Hemananda Biswal

The senior Congress leader announced this at a meeting of Congress workers at the residence of the party’s Sundargarh District unit president Dusmant Nayak here soon after the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) announced the names of the candidates for two Lok Sabha and 118 Assembly seats in the evening.

Briefing newsmen after the meeting, Biswal said he was surprised by the decision of the party leadership to field two candidates – from Bonei and Raghunathpalli – who were not considered members of the party.

“I don’t know whether these two candidates belong to the Congress. The party leadership has neither sought any suggestion from the District Congress leaders and nor discussed their selection with me. Since it is not possible to contest the polls with the help of these two new faces, I am forced to withdraw my nomination”, Biswal said.

He, however, parried the questions on the names of the candidates he had proposed to the party leadership for the two aforesaid assembly seats.

It may be mentioned here that while the Congress has fielded former BJP leader Bhimsen Choudhury from Bonei who had recently joined the Congress, it has allotted the party ticket to Ashok Sethi, a former employee of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP), to contest from Raghunathpalli.

Biswal has served as a Congress legislator for six terms before being elected to the Lok Sabha in 2009 general election.

He served as state chief minister twice for about four months from Dec 7, 1989 to March 3, 1990 and another four months from Dec 6, 1999 to March 5, 2000. He also served as a minister for several years.