Lending credence to the media speculations in the recent days the Biju Janata Dal leadership has indeed clinically phased out some old faces for the Lok Sabha, regardless of the unease it has created. That must be seen as a smart move by Naveen Patnaik but one can’t afford to miss the risk factors involved. The names for three more Lok sabha seats, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and Cuttack are yet to be announced.
The changes were binding as in many parts of the country and the leaders left out must reconcile to the reality that the notion of younger faces and young voters is a necessity that the BJD leadership has taken as a priority. But, the selection of some candidates for a few assembly seats in some places reflect BJD chief’s defensive stance despite the risks involved in fielding old faces who have either tainted image or suffer from an eroding grassroots hold in last five years.
Which is explicit from the position taken by the BJD on the Kendrapada Lok Sabha constituency, which grows to be one of the key constituencies from where the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Biajayant Panda. Kendrapada is now becoming the focal point where the popular cine star Anubhav Mohanty, a sitting Rajya Sabha MP, is the Lok Sabha candidate to take on Panda. And it goes without saying that Kendrapada is going to be a do or die battle for Panda and a big prestige issue for the BJD chief Naveen Patnaik. From the day Panda had parted ways with the BJD, his vitriol against Patnaik have become like posters in the walls.
With that on the background, the BJD chief seems to be under certain pressure to retain some faces for the assembly segments in Kendrapada those who have shorn their images due non-performance or blots of alleged scam. And the compulsion under which Patnaik has retained those faces is obvious. With Panda already in a sabre-rattling mood to avenge the insult, Patnaik surely wanted to ward off any element of rebellion by discarding the old faces. Because assembly segments play the catalyst role for the Lok sabha.
On one side Naveen’s political bête noire Panda would try all the tricks to paint his bitter political adversary Naveen as the ‘enemy’ of people of Odisha, the latter must invest all his electoral wisdom to see Panda packing from the soils of Kendrapada.