The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This ancient proverb in Kautilya’s Arthashasatra seems to have no meaning in present day politics. This is because; the enemy of an enemy is not visible, who quietly works underground.
In Odisha politics, it is said that Biju Janata Dal (BJD) headed by Naveen Patnaik is opposed to both Narendra Modi led BJP and Rahul Gandhi’s Congress. The BJD President claims that his party maintains equal distance from “corrupt” Congress and “communal” BJP.
Congress in Odisha claims that it is the State’s main opposition party and therefore, totally opposed to BJD on the one hand, while, on the other hand, the county’s oldest political party’s ideology is totally different from the rightist BJP. The saffron party, which formed government in alliance with BJD from 2000 to 2009, has taken it as a mission to make India “Congress Free”. The saffron brigade is also working overtime to make Odisha “BJD Free.”
Therefore, the three main political parties in Odisha look in three different directions and have no possibility of joining hands with each other though the BJP and BJD had worked jointly to oust Congress from the State during 2000-09.
However, the recent three-tier panchayat elections have changed the entire scenario. The rural poll results have clearly divided the opposition, much to the amusement of Naveen Patnaik. The Chief Minister is happy that opposition Congress and BJP have distanced from each other and do not join hands in the State Legislative Assembly to put the Treasury Bench in trouble.
Since the beginning of this term of Naveen, the House witnessed close coordination between Congress and BJP as a combined opposition. Both supported each other on various issues and mounted attack on BJD. Even both Congress and BJP leaders attended an all-party meeting on Mahanadi dispute and worked against the BJD government.
However, this year’s panchayat polls have changed the relationship. As BJP could manage to utilize the grassroots level functionaries of Congress to the saffron party’s favour, Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra and his party received the shock of their life. Now it is clear that they would never trust BJP in the State.
The quiet honeymoon between BJP and Congress in the Assembly, political observers opine, influenced the grassroots level workers to join hands with BJP workers in villages. When the senior leaders hug each other in the Assembly, what is wrong with the village level party workers shaking hands in the rural polls? The Congress Party in Odisha has learnt a hard lesson after paying a heavy price, pointed a senior Congress lawmaker.
Take the instance of the recent farmers’ suicide case in Bargarh district. Even though Bargarh is a stronghold of BJP, the saffron party did not support Congress which stalled proceeding of the House for two days over the farmers’ suicide issue.
Congress also ensured that BJP does not take credit out of the farmers’ suicide. BJP leaders were prevented from raising the issue in the Assembly.
And an angry BJP legislature party leader K V Singh Deo issued a Press Statement alleging a nexus between BJD and Congress.
BJP, though has the record of forging alliance with BJD, now it levels allegations against Congress leaders having nexus with Naveen’s party. Both BJD and Congress hatch conspiracy to stop BJP in Odisha, Singh Deo alleged. Congress, on its part, claimed that there should be no doubt that BJD has nexus with BJP. This is evident from the fact that the CBI maintained a slow pace in the investigation of the multi-crore chit fund scam in which scores of BJD leaders including MPs, MLAs and Ministers are allegedly involved, Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra levelled the allegation in the Assembly.
Mishra said that BJD leaders today enjoyed blessings due to a secret understanding with BJP bosses at the Centre. While one BJD MP is in jail and another MLA is on bail, many others may find a place in Jharpada, the Congress alleged while trying to justify its claim of a nexus between BJD and BJP.
The ruling BJD also did not delay in claiming an unholy nexus between the Congress and BJP. “The nexus is evident in the panchayat polls. Congress workers on the whole worked for BJP in the rural polls in order to defeat the BJD candidates,” alleged BJD spokesperson Samir Ranjan Dash adding that therefore, BJP, which was not finding place to put its flag, could manage to get more seats than Congress got. Is it not enough to say that BJP was in nexus with Congress? the BJD leader asked.
The political situation over the alleged nexus between parties appears to be a complex one. Therefore, in Odisha politics, it is difficult to know who is a friend and who is an enemy. Everyone claims that the other is a friend of the third, an enemy. In atmosphere mistrust among the political leaders, Kautilya’s Arthashastra is passé. This kind of situation has also created huge suspicion among the parties and no one believes the other.
The parties may be politically opposing each other, but there is need to be some amount of trust. The trust is that an opposition party would behave in a befitting manner within the ambit of democracy and the ruling party has the duty to have faith in the opposition where there is an issue related to the interest of the State.
But, in the changing scenario, things are different. No one knows who will stab the other in the next elections. Now with allegations flying thick and fast, no one is sure about the emerging scenario in politics. But one thing is sure that “mistrust is ruling the roost” and the nexus barb hits Odisha politics as it has done never before.