BJP leadership meets to finalise candidate for Bijepur by-election

Bhubaneswar: A crucial meeting of the senior BJP leaders began at the state headquarters to finalise candidate for the ensuing by-election for the Bijepur assembly segment.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Odisha BJP in-charge Arun Singh, party State unit president Basant Panda, BJP Legislature Party leader KV Singh Deo were present at the meeting to finalise candidate for the upcoming byelection.

Sources said the party may field former Bijepur MLA and BJD leader Ashok Panigrahi who joined the BJP at a special function in Barpali in the presence of two Union Ministers, Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram last year.

Panigrahi quit the party after BJD announced the name of Rita Sahu, the widow of Congress MLA Subal Sahu as the party candidate.

Meanwhile, Rita Sahu said she will file her nomination papers on February 5.

“I will file my nomination papers on February 5,” said Rita Sahu after meeting with the BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the latter’s residence here.

The seat had fallen vacant following the death of Congress MLA Subal Sahu on August 22 last year.

Rita and her two sons had joined the BJD, along with their supporters in September last year.

However, opposition parties-Congress and BJP- are yet to announce their candidates for the February 24 by-poll. The Congress has formed a committee under the chairmanship of former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal to select the candidate for the Bijepur by-election.

The by-election for the Bijepur assembly seat will be held on February 24. The notification will be issued on January 30 and February 6 is the last date for filing nomination papers. Counting will be held on February 28.

Earlier, the BJD and the Congress had accused the BJP ruled Centre of influencing the ECI to delay the by-poll to suit itself.

The ensuing byelection assumed significance as its outcome could set the tone for the 2019 assembly and Lok Sabha elections. A part of Bargarh district in western Odisha, Bijepur has been a stronghold of the Congress. Subal Sahu was thrice elected from the seat on a Congress ticket.