Bhubaneswar, August 6: Looking for a fifth straight term as Odisha chief minister by winning the 2019 assembly polls, – BJD president Naveen Patnaik now finds himself travelling on bumpy path with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress making all-out efforts to check his dream run.
Both the oppositions appear to be hell-bent to restrict Naveen’s juggernaut that has been rolling on without any hiccups since 2000.
The BJP, led by its national president Amit Shah and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, – have been pulling out all stops to score of the BJD. On the other hand, the Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who once declared himself as the Sipahi of Adivasis (soldiers of tribals), is keeping a personal watch on the state politics to bounce back in the 2019 polls.
The saffron brigade has already geared up its organisational machinery by reaching out nearly two-third booths in 36,000 booths in the state. Party president Mr Shah has fixed a target for the state leaders to reach all the booths by September 2018.
In fact, he BJP president has set a target of winning at least 120 of the 147 assembly seats in the coming polls.
The saffron party, sources said; – soon after Amit Shah’s visit to the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who sees Odisha a strategic land to be conquered for expansion of the party in the east, – will address a massive rally in the state to set tone for the ensuing Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
The BJP, now the second major party after the ruling in BJD, – has very articulately strategised its campaign plans. It plans to go offensive as well as defensive, depending upon the situations. Sources in the party said the party has decided to go offensive on a host of social and governance issues; and major scams and scandals that took place in the last 18 years of the Naveen Patnaik government.
On development issues, – the BJP leaders have been sharing on all possible platforms the contribution of the Narendra Modi government to the state’s socio-economic development.
Crumbling healthcare and primary education systems, continuation of migration of the poor from southern and western parts of Odisha to other states in search of work; alleged patronisation of gangsters by BJD leaders, multi-crore chit fund and mining scams are the key issues the BJP has chalked out to nail the government.
Already on the back-foot following a series of arrests of its leaders by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chit fund scam, the BJD fears more aggressions from the federal probe agency before the polls. Leaders of the regional outfit have gone on record saying the BJP has been selectively using the CBI to wrest power from it, – a charge the saffron party rejected outright.
The Congress which dreams of returning power in state after 20 years has almost quelled the factional feuds in the state and installed veteran party leader Niranjan Patnaik as the new Pradesh Congress Committee president.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Rahul Gandhi who has got special knowledge about the state’s demographic features has recently sent his trusted man and former Union minister Jitendra Singh as the state in-charge.
In fact, Jitendra Singh, after assuming his charge a few months ago, – has proved his worth by cementing a bridge between the top leaders of the party who in the past did not see eye to eye on different issues.
The Congress, like the BJP, is also building up a strong, high-tech social media campaign with high-skilled professionals hired from reputed agencies to counter the BJD’s “politics of propaganda.”
“All these years, the BJD has hoodwinked the people by rolling out some sops which has made people dependent on it. No tangible progresses have been made in creating productive infrastructure or assets. Real development has eluded the people and Odisha, despite nearly two decades of continues to languish in poverty and battle with malnutrition and hunger. Despite all its lapses and failures, the Naveen Patnaik government continues to survive because of a strong propaganda campaign on development,” says PCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
As the opposition BJP and Congress are busy in giving final touches to their buildups, the BJD led by its president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik has embarked upon preparing counter strategies to withstand the assault and emerge victorious for the record fifth term. If the BJD retains power and Naveen Patnaik rules for the full fifth term, he will equal the record of Jyoti Basu of West Bengal and Pawan Kumar Chamling of Sikkim who led their parties to victory as chief ministers for the record fifth term.