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Whispers In BJD

  

As BJD Supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik introduced Ram Nath Kovind to the party lawmakers on 14 July, the whisper in the Odisha Legislative Assembly conference hall was clearly heard.  
 
Everyone looked at the face of the other when Naveen showered all praise on the BJP led NDA’s Presidential pick Kovind.
 
 What is Naveen doing? Will he doom the electoral prospect of the regional party by throwing unconditional support to the BJP candidate?
 
Many in the conference hall had no clue. However, none could muster courage to seek clarification from the BJD President as he went on saying that it was a privilege for the regional party to support a personality like Kovind.
 
The strong anti-BJP forces including Dhenkanal MP Tathagat Satpathy were apparently mute and preferred to leave the fate of the party to Naveen, who is considered the only person to fetch votes. He has  brought BJD to power  four successive times.
 
Though the people at large were explained earlier that the BJD supported the BJP candidate in a bid to repay the saffron party’s debt during P A Sangma’s candidature in 2012 Presidential elections, the party MLAs and MPs are not convinced, as the saffron brigade is out in full strength to demolish BJD in 2019.
 
People in politics can hardly accept this clarification. They are not able to buy the argument and often raise doubts on Naveen’s intentions, but keep it to themselves.
 
The gathering, which has been given a clear message that they are allowed to think of their own constituencies and not rest of the state, have no alternative to just whispering.  
 
Everybody in Odisha knows that Naveen announced BJD’s support to Kovind only after a phone call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, none knew what exactly Modi told Naveen and under which circumstances the BJD President offered all out support to a “distinguished Dalit person.”
 
Whatever the reason may be, the elected MLAs and MPs of BJD are facing it very difficult when people ask them the reason behind party’s support to a BJP pick. The BJD rank and file, which has been fighting the saffron forces at village level, do not accept Naveen’s decision and wonder whether the party would revive its alliance with BJP again ahead of the 2019 general elections.
 
The saffron leaders at local level have also started lampooning BJD workers and saying that the regional party now dances at the tune of Modi, pointed out a veteran lawmaker, who has the reputation of being a strong critic of BJP.
 
The MLA, who is seething in fury over his candidate’s defeat in the hands of BJP candidate in the last zilla parishad elections, has lost his peace of mind after he has been directed to vote for BJP candidate Kovind in the July 17 Presidential elections.
 
“People in villages ask us, not Naveen.  Chief Minister can avoid people’s questions, not we,” pointed out another legislator.
 
Though all have agreed to vote for Kovind, a majority of BJD lawmakers are now in doubt over Naveen’s next course of decision on the Vice Presidential elections.
 
Will Naveen toe NDA line? The question is making rounds in the BJD circle as MLAs feel that they will be thoroughly exposed if Naveen supports NDA candidate in Vice Presidential polls again. Many lawmakers feel that they should not face further embarrassment.
 
Though many of them do not know Gopalkrishna Gandhi, they have come in support of the leader hailing from Gandhiji’s family. Above all Gopalkrishna is also an “old and valuable friend” of Naveen since his non-political days. However, nobody knows Naveen’s next course of action. If BJD spokesperson, Samir Ranjan Dash’s statement is to be believed, BJD will support the NDA candidate and not Gandhi, the opposition candidate.
 
“Friendship is another factor and politics is a different chapter,” Dash told media persons giving clear indication that Naveen may go with NDA again in the Vice Presidential elections.
 
However, one respite for the MLAs is that they need not participate in the Vice Presidential polls as it is meant only for the MPs of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. However, the party’s decision is certainly important which will have impact on the BJD-BJP arithmetic in every nook and corner of the state.
 
Both the parties are at loggerheads for quite some time. Naveen has also asked his party men to counter the mis-campaign of the saffron party for which people have been working day in and day out. At this juncture of the fight,  BJD’s decision may demoralise the party rank and file.
 
Many BJD MLAs are apprehensive about the possible revival of the alliance with BJP. Some of them consider that they may not get opportunity to fight the 2019 general elections at all if Naveen agrees for an alliance again.
 
They are now concerned as well as confused over the next day politics. Naveen has all along remained an unpredictable politician who springs surprise even for his own followers. He knows the formula of survival in politics and can do anything to retain power again.
 
A large number of BJP leaders are also not interested in a possible revival of alliance with BJD. The saffron leaders have been humiliated in the hands of Naveen when he dropped them like hot potatoes just before the 2009 general elections. It took around a decade to build a platform from where they can fight the regional party.
 
BJP President Amit Shah has given them the much required energy to muster strength and chalked out a proper strategy to stop BJD’s victory journey.
 
Against this backdrop, BJD leaders are clueless as to why their boss is going the BJP way. They are not able to ask their boss about it. So they are only meekly whispering.
 
“Will Naveen listen to the whispers of these field agents of the party working at grassroots level and review the strategy?” asked an anxious former Minister and a long time lawmaker of the Biju era.
 
 
 


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