BJp looks to do a tripura in odisha

Present po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion may prove ‘lull be­fore storm’ if peo­ple’s mood swings. BJP is wait­ing to make a kill.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Far from the hoi pol­loi of the po­lit­i­cal up­heavals in al­most all the states of the coun­try since Naren­dra Modi took over the reins in Delhi, Odisha has com­par­a­tively been calm with four-time Chief Min­is­ter Naveen Pat­naik seek­ing an­other term in the name of his leg­endary fa­ther Bi­jubabu as well as un­der the al­ibi of “Cen­tre’s step-motherly treat­ment to the state”.

As it seems to­day, rul­ing Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is sit­ting pretty af­ter the Bi­jepur vic­tory. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had upped the ante and its rank and file were ec­static af­ter win­ning im­pres­sively in the elec­tions to the lo­cal bod­ies es­pe­cially in the western pock­ets of the state in the last cou­ple of years. But the Bi­jepur As­sem­bly by­elec­tion de­feat brought a thaw in their zeal. A num­ber of or­gan­i­sa­tional changes are be­ing ef­fected to weed out the wrong peo­ple at the helm and steps are be­ing taken to main­tain the en­thu­si­asm of the cadre.

Chief Min­is­ter Pat­naik, who dou­bles as BJD supremo, has also ef­fected cos­metic changes in the party so as to re­ward his loy­al­ists and those who made the Bi­jepur win pos­si­ble. The by­poll win has come as a ma­jor re­lief for Pat­naik. Of late, he is try­ing to change his sphinx im­age by min­gling with the com­mon peo­ple. In a bid to cre­ate a di­rect con­nect with young­sters, he is seen tak­ing self­ies with young crowd dur­ing var­i­ous events and func­tions in the re­cent past. Many may take it as a des­per­ate bid on his part to stem BJP’s rise, but it seems to be pay­ing off.

The saf­fron party, on the other hand, is try­ing its best to leave the Bi­jepur night­mare be­hind and re­gain its lost ground as well as make fresh for­ays. It’s leav­ing no stones un­turned to em­bar­rass the BJD gov­ern­ment as and when an is­sue crops up. From Kun­duli rape to Bomikhal fly­over col­lapse, the party is try­ing to grab ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to put the rul­ing dis­pen­sa­tion on the mat. How­ever, lack of a leader match­ing Pat­naik’s stature is what is haunt­ing the party the most. Or­gan­i­sa­tional weak­ness is an­other fac­tor af­fect­ing party prospects highly in the state.

Mean­while, the state unit of Congress party is in a re­vamp mode. Af­ter a se­ries of elec­toral re­ver­sals and at­tri­tions there­after, the party has been rel­e­gated to the third po­si­tion in the state. Never-end­ing in­ternecine squab­bles have pushed the grand old party to a point of no re­turn.

Congress high com­mand’s choice of Ni­ran­jan Pat­naik, a per­son seen as bearer of for­mer Chief Min­is­ter Jana- ki Bal­labh Pat­naik’s legacy, to lead the party into the si­mul­ta­ne­ous gen­eral and as­sem­bly elec­tions in the state next year has only added to its woes. With BJP re­plac­ing the party as the main op­po­si­tion in the state and left with al­most no prom­i­nent leader with it any more, the fu­ture of Congress seems rather bleak in the state.

More­over, it’s poach­ing sea­son in Odisha pol­i­tics. While all the three par­ties are fac­ing the prob­lem of de­ser­tions, Congress is ob­vi­ously ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it the most. But, strangely, the two ma­jor play­ers are also not free from it. Not a sin­gle week is pass­ing when one or other leader worth his salt is not flock­ing to the ri- val camp along with his fol­low­ers. When BJD is look­ing for a groundswell, BJP is eye­ing to poach prom­i­nent lead­ers as well as the dis­grun­tled fac­tions of other par­ties, es­pe­cially be­long­ing to the rul­ing out­fit.

Dur­ing his re­cent vis­its to the state, BJP na­tional pres­i­dent Amit Shah has claimed that his party would win as many as 120 out of the to­tal of 147 seats in the stateAssem­bly. But the party men would cer­tainly find it an up­hill task to achieve the tar­get which has come to known as “Mis­sion-120”.

Asked if the tar­get set by their chief is in­tan­gi­ble, party veteran Kanak Vard­han Singh Deo ex­plained: “While look­ing for a big win, it’s the job of the lead­er­ship to set a tar­get for the work­ers. Sri Amit Shah has just done that. It’s now up to the par­ty­men to achieve that tar­get. We all are work­ing hard to ac­com­plish the mis­sion.” Talk­ing to me­di­a­per­sons ear­lier, party’s na­tional sec­re­tary Suresh Pu­jari had said, “If a strong party like CPM could be routed in Tripura de­spite hav­ing a pop­u­lar Chief Min­is­ter Manik Sarkar, why can’t the same hap­pen in Odisha? We are do­ing our work qui­etly on the ground. The re­sults would be seen next year.” To this, Singh Deo added: “Noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble. The same fac­tors like anti-in­cum­bency are work­ing here also.” This shows though the party is ex­pect­ing a Tripura- type of mir­a­cle, its state lead­ers are putting all-out ef­forts to prove that their supremo’s Mis­sion-120 call is not just an­other jumla.

Only time will tell whether Pat­naik would get an­other term to cre­ate his­tory as one of the long­est serv­ing Chief Min­is­ters as it ap­pears to­day or the present po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the state would prove to be the prover­bial “lull be­fore the storm” with the mood of the vot­ers sway­ing in favour the on­go­ing “Modi wave” and the saf­fron party storm­ing into the cor­ri­dors of power in the state. Much will also de­pend on the out­come of the Kar­nataka elec­tions.

REUTERS

In­dian Navy Ships Kamorta, Sahyadri and Shakti, are seen docked in Changi Naval Base dur­ing a visit to Singapore, on Thurs­day.

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