Bhubaneswar: When a veteran political analyst was asked to opine about recent political development between ruling BJD and opposition BJP, he quipped, “It seems the political parties have some jobs to perform for the public and media gets some more work to do.” While BJD and BJP are at loggerheads, political analysts do not take these things seriously, so also opposition Congress.
Some fireworks are going on as BJD leaders are seen raising slogans against central government apathy over release of subsidy to Odisha and BJP leaders rushing to Union Minister alleging foul play on Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
As major elections like Rural, Urban Local Bodies and the Assembly elections in 2024 are ahead, the BJD appears to have changed its strategy. The regional party which thrived in the state for more than 20 years, has now decided to return to adopt an anti-centre stand. The BJD is in no mood to tolerate the BJP and may not allow the saffron party to progress further.
As its first anti-centre stand BJD has picked up the paddy procurement issue and blamed the central government for not releasing the subsidy for the state. Naveen’s party also alleged that the central agency like Food Corporation of India (FCI), mandated to undertake paddy procurement in the state, has not done its best for which the farmers suffer. Though FCI is supposed to lift paddy from the people, the state government through an agreement had taken up the responsibility in order to facilitate the farmers in remote areas to sell their paddy at the MSP. In the process, the centre is yet to release about Rs 6,000 crore to the state for doing FCI’s work. The state administration’s several letters to the Ministry have failed to yield any result. A delegation of BJD MPs from both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha rushed to Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal to draw his attention to the problems faced by the state.
As both the BJD and BJP are claiming to be the champion of the farmers’ cause in the state, the saffron party immediately reacted and rushed its MP delegation to Piyush Goyal making allegation of gross irregularities in the distribution of food grain among the poor under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. They demanded an inquiry into the irregularities and urged Goyal to direct the state government to rectify anomalies. An opposition political party making allegations against the state government is usual. But, what is abnormal is that the BJP MP delegation comprised two Union Cabinet Ministers – Dharmendra Pradhan and Ashiwini Vaishnaw – and a former minister Pratap Sarangi. These three MPs are considered as the face of BJP in Odisha and their collective demand before a cabinet colleague looks serious.
The presence of Mr.Pradhan and Mr.Vaishnaw also gives a clear message that the BJP is not making friendship with the BJD and is actually acting as a true opposition despite the regional party’s help to cover-up its own lacunas as alleged by the Congress. This move of the BJP may be embarrassing for the BJD, which, at the cost of the party remained silent on crucial issues like fuel price hike. The BJD has all the strength to raise the issue of rise in the price of essential commodities which has been hitting the common man badly. Though the BJD has remained silent, it may take up the matter in days to come as the acrimony increases.
The BJP has also intensified its attack on the BJD government over the alleged irregularities in the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Aawas (Gramin) Yojana and demanded a CBI probe. Though the BJD rejected allegations, it failed to convince people that there was no irregularity in the rural housing schemes. No doubt, the BJP has an upper hand in the housing issue while the BJD has been playing defensive. This is because, the people across the state are dissatisfied about the allocation of the rural housing units and how ineligible people are getting assistance for house construction at the cost of the poor.
Often the BJP raises issues of rising crimes against women and targets important BJD leaders for atrocities against minor girls and at times for protecting the accused even in murder cases.
Opposition Congress has more often alleged that BJD and the BJP are two sides of the same coin and they work hand-in-glove. The saffron party now desperately wants to change such public impression before the three-level elections ahead. This is because, the BJP leadership is pretty well aware that the saffron party has no future in Odisha unless its name is tagged to the BJD. In order to come to power in the state, BJP has to convince people that it has no tacit understanding with BJD. This will be possible only after BJP stops seeking Naveen’s help every now and then.
Many in Odisha also do not believe that both the BJP and the BJD are at loggerheads. The bond between the two is still deep albeit complex and mysterious. People find it hard to believe that the BJP’s demand of action against BJD has any relevance keeping in view the history of their bonding since 1998. The people have started making doubts when Dharmendra Pradhan was stripped of the prime portfolio like Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel and made to remain happy as an Education Minister while Naveen’s blue-eyed boy Ashiwini Vaishnaw got plum posts like the Cabinet Minister in charge of Railways, Communication and IT. This is because Vaishnaw is close to the BJD supremo and political grapevine is agog with murmurs that Naveen has now secured more connectivity with Modi Government. While Vaishnaw is equally close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he will be performing the role of a bridge between both the top leaders.
So, when BJD and BJP raise issues against each other one has to take it like a pinch of salt. The political parties will have to show some action to the public, which is termed as Shadow Boxing by analysts. However, things will be clear in coming days as the rural poll timing will draw nearer and both the parties will try to influence the people.