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Odisha: Sarkhel leaves Congress, raising questions over her candidacy for the Paradip Assembly seat

On Thursday, Arindam Sarkhel—better known as Bapi Sarkhel—resigned from the Congress. The likelihood that Sarkhel would soon join the BJD has fueled rumors about the party’s candidate for the Paradip Assembly seat.

Days after his wife, Monideepa, joined the local organization, Sarkhel tendered her resignation. In his letter of resignation to Sarat Pattanayak, the president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC), Sarkhel expressed his desire to focus on the welfare and social advancement of laborers. “My dream as a trade union leader has always been to ensure better living conditions for workers,” he said.

On March 17, Monideepa and her allies, including Chhabilata Rout, the vice-chairperson of the Paradip municipality, joined the BJD. The departure of Sarkhel from Congress has led to conjecture on the BJD’s nominee for the Paradip Assembly seat. Sambit Routray of the BJD, the son of the late senior politician Damodar Rout, is the party’s representative in the seat. According to sources, BJD could remove Sambit from the seat again because of a surge of support for him.

However, Sarkhel’s exit from the Congress and Monideepa’s affiliation with the BJD have given the regional organization other possibilities for the seat. According to sources, some party members in Paradip are opposed to Sambit. In 2014, BJD veteran Damodar Rout and his son Sambit defeated Sarkhel when he stood for Congress from the Paradip Assembly seat.

However, since launching his nonpartisan organization “Ama Paradip, Ama Pragati,” whose members ran as Independents in both panchayat and urban elections, he had refrained from joining the Congress.

Sarkhel Bapi
Talk about Sarkhel attending an Odisha protest meeting

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