Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday resigned from the Bijepur Assembly seat while retaining the Hinjli seat, the Hindustan Times reported. Patnaik had contested from two Assembly seats for the first time in his political career and won both the seats.
Patnaik won the seat Hinjili seat for the fifth straight term. He defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Pitambar Acharya by 60,160 votes, while he defeated the BJP candidate Sanat Kumar Gartia by a margin of 57,122 votes in Bijepur.
Biju Janata Dal secretary Bijay Nayak said Patnaik sent his resignation as legislator from Bijepur constituency in Bargarh district to Assembly Speaker SN Patro. An unidentified party MP said the Biju Janata Dal is likely to field Rita Sahu as its candidate for the bye-elections, The Indian Express reported.
Patnaik resigned from the Bijepur seat three days after he announced a Rs 1,330 crore package, including plans to provide pucca houses to 34,000 households in the Assembly constituency.
“I was overwhelmed by your love during Bijepur bypoll in February 2018,” Patnaik said in a statement. “During the 2019 election, I was requested from several quarters to contest from western Odisha. In this context, I had decided to contest from Bijepur. I will always be indebted to your love and affection. I have always fulfilled the promises made to you and would keep on working for it.”
Bijepur was a Congress bastion till 2018 when the Biju Janata Dal won a bye-election necessitated by the death of sitting Congress MLA Subal Sahu. The Biju Janata Dal had then fielded Sahu’s wife, Rita Sahu, as its candidate.
The BJP, which won 23 Assembly seats in Odisha, criticised Patnaik’s move to vacate Bijepur. “Had he decided to keep Bijepur, then the constituency could have been developed like Hinjili,” said BJP legislator from Sambalpur, Jaya Narayan Mishra, according to the Hindustan Times. “But the chief minister has only shown his discriminating attitude towards western Odisha.”