Bhubaneswar: The joining of Biramitrapur MLA George Tirkey in Congress is likely to pose a challenge to Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, the lone BJP MP from Odisha.
Tirkey, a four-time MLA, on Wednesday joined Congress along with convenor of Mahanadi Bachao Andolan Sudarshan Das in the presence of All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi.
The Congress party is likely to field Tirkey for Sundargarh Lok Sabha constituency in 2019 polls. In 2004, he had unsuccessfully fought the Sundergarh Lok Sabha elections as an Independent candidate.
Tirkey is known for his strong base among the tribal community in the district.
There would be a triangular fight between Tirkey, Oram and former Indian hockey team captain Dilip Tirkey. BJD leader Dilip, a former Rajya Sabha member, had contested unsuccessfully the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from the Sundargarh parliamentary constituency.
Oram had barely scraped through in 2014 polls. Four of Sundargarh’s seven assembly seats went to non-BJP parties- two to Congress, one to CPM and the fourth was won by George Tirkey.
“Tirkey is a senior tribal leader with thousands of supporters. I strongly believe that their joining will strengthen Odisha Congress,” said Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik.
He said the party will take a decision on fielding Tirkey for 2019 polls at the appropriate time.
George had won the Biramitrapur Assembly segment in 1995 and 2000 on JMM ticket. Later, he was elected from Birmitrapur as an Independent MLA in 2009 and 2014.