Polls divide families as fathers, sons take different political routes in Odisha

PTI, Apr 10, 2024, 6:08 PM IST

Representative image (Source: PTI)

Bhubaneswar: At least three veteran politicians in Odisha are facing a strange situation at home in this election time since their sons are contesting the polls with tickets from rival political parties.

Sons of Congress leaders Suresh Routray and Chintamani Dyan Samantaray, and BJP’s Bijoy Mohapatra are contesting elections from parties not linked to their fathers.

Senior Congress leader and Jatani MLA Suresh Routray has been issued a show cause notice by the disciplinary committee of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) for allegedly campaigning for his son Manmath Routray, who is a ruling BJD candidate from Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat.

Routray (80), a six-time MLA from Congress, who announced not to contest the elections this time, was found campaigning for his son Manmath in different parks in the state capital.

”I have not told anyone to vote for my son, but when people are asking me if they should cast their votes for my son, I am telling them yes,” Suresh said.

”Yes, I have told people to vote for my son because they ask me what to do. If AICC or the PCC wants to punish me, I will accept it. But I will be a Congressman till my death,” Routray said.

He further claimed that he is a man of principles.

For former Odisha Assembly Speaker and veteran Congress leader from Ganjam district, Chintamani Dyan Samantray, the situation is a little bit difficult.

His sons are in the fray, one from the Congress and another from the BJP.

He is in a fix as he does not know whom to vote for since his sons are the main contestants.

While the opposition BJP has fielded his younger son Manoranjan Dyan Samantaray, his elder son Ravindanath Dyan Samantaray has been fielded by the Congress.

Chintamani Dyan Samantaray, a senior Congress leader, was elected three times from Chikiti – twice as an independent (1980 and 1995) and once on a Congress ticket (1985).

While junior Samantaray unsuccessfully contested the assembly elections twice – on a Congress ticket (2014) and a BJP ticket (2019), his elder brother is contesting for the first time this year.

”I have been active in Congress since my father’s period. As a result, I got a ticket from the party to contest. It will be a contest between two ideologies, and not between two brothers,” said Ravindranath.

Manoranjan claimed that he was very active in politics for the last several years and got the BJP ticket to contest the election.

”Some vested interests might have instigated my brother to contest in Congress ticket to create disturbance in the family. However, it would have no impact on my poll prospects,” he said.

Chintamani Dyan Samantray said due to his ill health, he might not campaign for any of his sons. The 84-year-old veteran leader, however, said he was a Congressman and opposed the policies of the BJP.

”My younger son’s decision to contest on the BJP ticket was his own decision. As a father, I cannot impose our decision on him,” he added.

In Kendrapara district, veteran BJP leader and former minister Bijoy Mohapatra, a longstanding political opponent of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, is also in trouble.

His son Arabinda Mohapatra has been fielded as a BJD candidate from the Patkura assembly segment.

Though not active in the BJP, Bijoy continued to remain in the saffron party and had also contested the last assembly elections from the Patkura assembly segment.

This time, his son is a candidate from BJD. He, however, had blessings for his son when he joined the BJD, and the regional party fielded him as a candidate.

Mohapatra was opposed to BJD for over two decades and this time with his son being a candidate, appeared to have softened his stand. He has started canvassing for his son Aravinda during a meeting in Kalapada.

“I have informed BJP state president Manmohan Samal about the activities of Bijoy. The party will soon take proper action against him,” said Kishor Panda, president of the Kendrapara district unit of BJP.

Senior BJP leader Baidyanath Chatterjee said it is illegal to campaign for the BJD candidate, maybe his son since he (Bijoy) is still a member of the saffron party.

During the 2000 election, Bijoy, one of the founders of the ruling party, was barred from contesting from the Patkura Assembly seat after the BJD denied him a party ticket at the very last moment.

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