Turncoats in demand as parties scramble for candidates (Reissuing with correction in paragraph 13th)April 10th, 2009 - 4:40 pm ICT by IANS
By Jatindra Dash
Bhubaneswar, April 10 (IANS) Turncoats are in heavy demand in Orissa to fight the Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the state.
Although instances of election-eve shift in loyalty are not unknown, it has assumed epidemic proportions this time, thanks largely to the breakup of the 11-year-old alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
The BJD-BJP alliance jointly fought the Lok Sabha polls of 1998, 1999 and 2004 and the assembly elections of 2000 and 2004.
In both the assembly polls, the BJD contested 84 seats and BJP 63. In the general elections, the BJD contested 12 seats and the BJP nine.
With the coalition’s collapse, both the parties have nominated, for some of the seats earlier held by their partner, leaders and activists of one another.
Four BJP legislators quit the party and joined the BJD last month. Two of them, Brundaban Majhi and Mahesh Sahu, have got the BJD ticket to contest the assembly elections from Kuchinda and Talcher respectively.
Another BJP leader, Bedprakash Agarwal, who too joined the BJD in March, will contest the assembly election from Kendrapada district.
Over a dozen BJD leaders who were sure they would not be nominated have joined the BJP — and many are now candidates.
They include MPs Archana Nayak (Bhubaneswar) and Braja Kishor Tripathy (Puri). They will fight to enter the Lok Sabha.
Two key BJD leaders who were expecting ticket but were denied — Gautam Ray and Parameswar Sethi - will now contest under the BJP banner for the Jajpur assembly and Jajpur Lok Sabha seats respectively.
Other prominent BJD leaders contesting on the BJP ticket are Radharani Panda (Bargarh Lok Sabha seat), Sankar Parida (Nimapada assembly), Bijayalaxmi Patnaik (Khandapada assembly) and Sanjay Padhi (Banki assembly seat).
The malaise is not limited to the BJP and the BJD. The Congress too has found its discards making a beeline to the now-estranged partners.
Prominent among them are former MP Pinaki Mishra, who is contesting on the BJP ticket from Puri, and former Youth Congress president Rohit Pujari, who will seek entry to the Lok Sabha from Sambalpur.
The BJP has also given the ticket to one-time Congress leader Umaballav Ratha (Puri assembly) as well as legislator Dilip Srichandan (Khurda assembly).
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) suffered a blow when its leading light, Bijoy Mohapatra, joined the BJP last month. He will now contest the assembly election from Patakura.
Similarly, former Communist Party of India (CPI) secretary Nityananda Pradhan is contesting on the BJD ticket from the Aska Lok Sabha constituency while the CPI has fielded former Congress leader Bibhu Prasad Tarai for the Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seat.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and regional parties like the newly-floated Samrudha Orissa are also banking on BJD-BJP and Congress rebels to contest elections in many constituencies.
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