By A K Sahoo
Bhubaneswar, Jan. 12: Odisha politics, as it appears now, has started to meandering in and interesting mode. Three major stakeholders, the BJD, BJP and Congress, – have tried to vie for the battle of honour this year that will position them the place of authority.
However, a close look at the preparation of the three parties gives an impression that the BJP, stealthily surging ahead of the rivals with its cadres working at the grassroots while the Congress is trailing far behind.
The ruling BJD, on the other hand, is desperately working to fend himself by rolling out one after another sops to address to various segments to consolidate its votes banks.
Let us analyse the situation. Having lost power the state in 2000 to the regional Biju Janata Dal (BJD); – the Congress is now making it last-ditch effort to reclaim the province, – not only to regain its preeminence here but also ward off its complete decimation in eastern part of the country. Brimming with its successes in the assembly elections in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the party now sees chances of victory in the coming state polls which will be held alongside the Lok Sabha elections in May this year.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik contends that since the people want a change in the state, Congress will be the ultimate choice for them as a “credible alternative.” People, as he argues, would not vote for BJP which has “diluted” its stand against the ruling BJD.
“The BJP which presents itself as an alternative to the BJD is no different from the latter. Both the parties have tacit understanding to walk together to protect each other’s interests. There are plenty of examples, including the the election of the President of India and Rajya Sabha deputy speaker; introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation, – in which the BJD extended its support to the BJP-led NDA government. In fact, the BJD and BJP are the two sides of the same coin. It implies that if you vote for BJD, you also vote for the BJP and vice versa,” mocks the OPCC chief.
Mr Patnaik claims the “disenchantment” of the voters with the BJD would naturally benefit the Congress. He, however, proffers no logic how the voters will switch their allegiance in favour of his party. The ground realities are different and carry no hopes and promises for the party.
While the BJP and BJD have been on their top gears for over year now by organising public rallies, hartals and strikes, – Congress has lagged far behind. It has apparently failed to match the activities of the rivals.
“The BJP and BJD have organised farmers’ rallies, organised big events of women, dalits and tribals to strengthen their positions. On the other hand, the Congress is almost sitting silent, – except undertaking some token activities involving very few party activists. Secondly, the office-bearers are yet to fan out to the nook and corner of the state to revive their old cadres. While the BJP and BJD have successfully wooed large number of potential leaders into their fold, – the Congress is also utterly failing in this respect.
On the other hand, some of the 16 sitting Congress MLAs are strongly contemplating to quit the party to join the BJD before the forthcoming visit of party president Rahul Gandhi to s state.
While the Congress still dithers on poll preparation front, as the political analysts point out, its principal rival for power – the BJP – has marched much ahead by organizing segment-wise state-level programmes. The party has organized farmers and women conventions, besides assembling tribals and dalits on different occasions.
“It can be undoubtedly said that the Congress has already missed the train. It has to find faster mode of communication to reach to the voters and win their hearts. Or else, it will not register any different results this time, also,” says political analysts.