Bhubaneswar/Bargarh, Feb 4: After much speculations, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Sunday cleared the name of Pranay Sahu, Gaisilat block Vice-Chairman as the party’s candidate for the upcoming Bijepur Assembly by-poll scheduled for February 24.
Earlier, the name of former MLA Ripunath Seth was also doing rounds while the top Congress leadership cleared Pranay Sahu’s name today.
With this, the stage is now set for a triangular fight between three political parties–BJD, BJP and the Congress.
The by-poll is considered a litmus test for all the three major political parties as it will be the first assembly by-election that is going to be held after 2014.
” I am grateful to party leadership for choosing me as candidate. During past 40 years, there has been no representation in politics from farming community in the area,” said Sahu.
Sahu assured that he will work for the interest of farmers if he wins the polls.
“As our organisation at ground is strong in Bijepur, Congress will continue to retain the Assembly seat that had earlier fallen vacant after the death of Subal Sahu,” Sahu added.
Pranay Sahu’s name was shortlisted along with Ripunath Seth by two Committees formed by the Congress high command.
While a committee led by senior leader Naba Das had submitted a report to PCC after undertaking a Bijepur visit, the other six-member committee headed by former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal submitted a report to the AICC regarding probable candidates for the by-poll.
Notably, the BJD has roped in Rita Sahu, the wife of late Subal Sahu, as its candidate while Ashok Panigrahi is BJP’s candidate.
Subal Sahu had won from the constituency for three consecutive times in 2004, 2009 and 2014 on a Congress ticket.
Former BJD MLA Ashok Panigrahi has filed his nomination as a BJP candidate for the upcoming by-poll. Though the ruling BJD has named Subal Sahu’s widow Rita Sahu as its candidate, she has not yet filed her nomination papers. The last date for filing nominations is February 6.
BJD candidate Rita Sahu and Pranaya Sahu of Congress will file their nomination papers on February 5 and 6 respectively, sources said.
According to BJP sources, the party is trying to rope in senior central leaders to campaign in the constituency.
They said Union Minister Smriti Irani and few other top BJP leaders will join the campaign to seek votes for Panigrahi.
They exuded confidence to clinch victory in the by-election.
BJP’s Legislature Party leader KV Singh Deo will be in-charge of Gaisilat block while senior leader Jayanarayan Mishra has been given the responsibility of Bijepur block and State president Basant Panda to look after Barpali block.