BJP expels independent candidate ahead of Odisha elections final phase

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Bhubaneswar, (Reporterspen), May 29: Just days before the final phase of elections in Odisha, the BJP took disciplinary action by expelling Himanshu Sahoo, an independent candidate contesting from the Dharmasala Assembly constituency, from the party.

The expulsion, ordered by state party president Manmohan Samal due to alleged anti-party activities, was confirmed through an office directive.

What was initially a direct face-off between the BJP and the BJD for the Dharmasala seat in Jajpur district has now transformed into a three-way contest with the entry of Himanshu, known as Liku, as an independent candidate. In response to this development, the BJP has fielded Smruti Rekha Pahi, who previously stood as the Congress candidate for the same seat in 2019.

The departure of Himanshu, credited with bolstering the BJP’s grassroots presence in Dharmasala, has reportedly weakened the party’s organizational strength in the constituency. Additionally, apart from potentially drawing support from traditional BJP voters, Himanshu is expected to benefit from the anti-incumbency sentiment against the incumbent BJD MLA Pranab Balabantray, who is seeking reelection for the third consecutive term. Meanwhile, the Congress has nominated former chairman of the Dharmasala block, Kisan Panda, as their candidate from the constituency.

The electoral battle for the Dharmasala seat, long considered a stronghold for the BJD, is scheduled for voting on June 1.

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