Sambalpur: Putting all speculation to the rest, BJP’s Odisha in-charge (Prabhari) Arun Sing on Tuesday clarified that Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will not contest the ensuing 2019 election.
Speaking to Kalinga TV exclusively, Sing said, “Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will neither fight the State Assembly elections nor the Lok Sabha elections this time. He only will campaign and seek votes for the party candidates as he is very popular among the people.”
Earlier, speculations were ripe that Pradhan will be in the poll fray as he is being considered as BJP’s Chief Minister face in the state.
The Union Minister himself in October, 2017, had announced to fight the electoral battle from Odisha in 2019. However, he had not clarified whether he would contest from any State Assembly seat or Lok Sabha constituency, saying it is the party which will take a decision in this regard.
Reacting to Arun Sing’s announcement on Pradhan, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra questioned saying while Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims that BJP will script history in Odisha, why then Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is scared of contesting the elections from Odisha.
Notably, Pradhan, time and again. attacks the state ruling BJD and the Odisha Chief Minister alleging them of misrule and inefficiency. On the other hand, BJD has been challenging him to step into the electoral arena and face voters instead of taking on various issues.
Pradhan has been a Rajya Sabha member from March 2018 from Madhya Pradesh. Earlier, he was nominated to the Upper House from Bihar in 2012. The BJP leader, who was elevated to the rank of a cabinet minister and given the additional charge of Skill Development in the Union ministry reshuffle last month, had not contested the 2014 polls.
Pradhan had won from the Pallahara constituency in the 2000 Assembly election. In 2004, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Deogarh constituency in the state when the BJP and BJD were allies. However, ever since the BJD snapped its ties with the saffron outfit in the run-up to the 2009 polls, he is not contesting the election.