Bhadrak: In a massive setback to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday emerged victorious in the by-election to Dhamnagar assembly segment, giving a check to the BJD’s by-poll winning spree since 2019.
BJP candidate Suryabansi Suraj, son of former MLA Bishnu Sethi, defeated his nearest rival Abanti Das of BJD in a huge margin. Suraj secured 80,351 votes while Abanti managed to bag 70,470 votes. Similarly, Congress candidate Baba Harekrushna Sethi has to be pleased with only 3,561 votes.
Rajendra Das alias Raju, who was fighting the by-poll independently after being sidelined by the BJD, received 8,153 votes. BJP’s Suryabansi who is a debutant in the active politics proved himself as a champion as he managed to retain his late father’s seat. He successfully left behind many top brass of the ruling party who had camped in Dhamnagar since the announcement of by-poll date and left no stone unturned to snatch away the seat which is considered as a BJP citadel.
Suraj’s victory in a margin of over 9,000 votes proved to be a strong blow to the BJD which was confident enough to capture the constituency like it did earlier in other by-elections. As expected, the ‘Raju Das’ factor came as a blessing in disguise for the BJP as he is said to have divided the regional party’s vote bank. Notably, Rajendra, a former MLA of BJD from the same seat had an organizational skill in his own area. Even though he was a frontrunner for the ticket in Dhamnagar, party leadership opted a woman face and picked up Abanti Das as the party’s first choice.
Fearing a vote bank division, the BJD had chalked out all plans to pacify Raju and make him withdraw from the battle, but failed. Raju had filed the nomination as an Independent candid date, putting up an open rebellion against the own outfit. BJD took maximum time to persuade him to opt out of the race. When all efforts went in vain, the Naveen Patnaik-led regional front had finally removed Das from the primary membership of the party terming him as an anti-party activist.
It is pertinent to mention, the Dhamnagar seat fell vacant following the death of BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi in September. At least 68.98 per cent of the constituency’s 2,38,417 voters had cast their votes in 252 booths of Dhamnagar on November 3.