The BJP is likely to project MP Kharavela Swain or leader of BJP Legislature Party Bishwabhushan Harichandan as its chief ministerial candidate for the coming Assembly polls.
The announcement of the chief ministerial candidate is expected at the Vijay Sankalp rally to be held on Monday. Hit hard by several desertions after its split with the BJD on March 7,the party hopes that the announcement would stem the exodus.
Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj is expected to announce the name of either of the two leaders as the chief ministerial face to take on Naveen Patnaik,whom the party has labeled a betrayer and rank opportunist after the split.
Orissa will vote simultaneously for the Lok Sabha and the Assembly in two phases on April 16 and April 23.
BJP sources said the decision to project a chief ministerial candidate was taken at L K Advanis Delhi residence last week soon after Patnaik announced his decision to go alone in Orissa. Advani also favoured the projection of a senior and honest leader to take on Patnaik,widely seen as a person with personal integrity.
Though Swain proposed the name of Harichandan,there seemed to be few takers as his chances of making it to the Assembly looks grim from any place in Bhubaneswar. Besides,Harichandan is not known to be a favourite with the party rank and file.
In all probability,Swain could be our chief ministerial candidate, said a BJP source. The bureaucrat-turned-politician,who is in his third term as Lok Sabha member,is considered by the party leadership as honest and credible. One of the most vocal MPs of the party,55-year-old Swain is appreciated by Advani for his skill in verbal duel in Lok Sabha debates.
Meanwhile,most top central leaders of the BJP are likely to miss the Vijay Sankalp rally to kickstart the partys electoral campaign in Orissa. Advani,who was expected to attend the rally,would now campaign in the state between March 18 and 22,sources said.