The induction of former Congress MLA and District Congress President Sudhir Samal into the BJD, has completely changed the political equation in Dhenkanal district. Although BJD stalwart Nabin Nanda welcomed Mr. Samal to the party, the message was more satirical than a normal one.
Sources close to Nabin Nanda believe that he was ignored within the party at the behest of other junior leaders who have money and muscle power. Nanda, who has time and again proved his credentials as a strong organiser, but did not get the ticket in 2014, was reportedly promised something better, but never got that.
On May 1, Nabin Nanda made his stand clear, saying he would definitely contest from Dhenkanal in 2019, but not sure about the symbol. The message is seen as a direct challenge to BJD leadership and party supremo Naveen Patnaik.
Nanda went further to say that he is not sure about a BJD ticket, as he has no money to buy it. Such a direct statement on public forum, may make his position untenable within the party. The party supremo may not take this statement lightly. However, Mr. Nanda remains unfazed.
“I have a strong organisation in my area. A large number of people vote for me irrespective of my party affiliation. I did not contest in 2014 with the promise that I would be getting a prestigious post. But, it did not happen. I am still in BJD and accept Naveen Patnaik as my leader. But, I am yet to take a decision on my next political course of action”, he said.
Nabin Nanda, who first contested unsuccessfully against former CM Nandini Satpathy in 1995 on Janata Dal ticket, won from Gondia in 2000 on a BJD ticket. After being denied ticket in 2004, he joined Samajawadi Party and lost the polls by a small margin. In 2009, he won from Dhenkanal on NCP ticket as part of alliance with BJD.
As all 4 NCP MLAs merged the party with BJD at a later stage, Nanda remains part and parcel of the party till date. But, he was denied a ticket in 2014 in favour of Saroj Samal. Nabin Nanda had alleged that the ticket was sold by some vested interests, but he swallowed the pain after getting assurance from CM Naveen Patnaik.
Supporters of Nabin Nanda as well grass root BJD workers have urged the party not to repeat the mistakes done by Congress in 1995 by giving importance to the people with money and muscle power and instead think about the leaders with strong organisational skills.