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Politics Takes A Turn

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Politics seems to have taken a turn and the opposition BJP and Congress are no more silent, not frustrated or sitting idle. With the General Elections to Lok Sabha and Odisha Legislative Assembly barely left in just one year, the opposition parties have pulled up their socks. The state’s principal opposition party quietly changed its Odisha Unit President. The name of Manmohan Samal was announced when neither the media nor the political circle made any guess. Shri Samal, a two-times former State President is given the opportunity for the third time as he is considered as the one who could take all factions under one umbrella. He has an absolutely good relationship with Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and at the same time with BJP MPs Jual Oram and Aparajita Sarangi.

That the saffron brigade is now spirited to give a befitting fight to the ‘Mighty BJD’ is evident from the recently concluded budget session of the Assembly. The entire session was dominated by BJP which launched attacks on the BJD Government and its governance style on a daily basis while the Treasury Bench was absolutely in defensive mode. Though the BJD Members raised the Mahanadi water dispute issue to corner the BJP and Congress, the opposition parties turned the situation into their favor.

They demanded a discussion on the River Mahanadi issue through a motion. The governing party which initially raised the issue preferred to backtrack, probably realizing that the BJD government has hardly done anything to resolve the crisis other than moving to the Court and now Tribunal. The two committees, one headed by the leader of the House and the Chief Minister and another chaired by Speaker, have not held any meetings though the panels were constituted five years ago in 2017.

The political analysts, however, said that the BJD was initially not interested in raising the Mahanadi issue, but to divert the attention of the House from the law and order situation. Senior Treasury Bench Member Debi Prasad Mishra tried to present facts effectively however Opposition was adamant on allegation that the BJD government has failed to set up a single barrage to regulate the water in the river Mahanadi which is being drained to the sea. Finally, on the concluding day of the session Minister Water Resources Tukuni Sahu assured the House to protect the interest of the State. However Treasury Bench could not gain politically from the Mahanadi issue.

Similarly, the session was also dominated by ex-Minister Naba Das’s assassination case. The opposition was seen in an advantageous position and alleged that the law and order situation has deteriorated. However Chief Minister Naven Patnaik presented an argument that how do investors make a beeline in Odisha if there is lawlessness in the state?

Treasury Bench Members’ submission that Leader of opposition Jaynarayan Mishra having criminal cases against him did not cut much ice as the opposition brought out a list of Treasury Bench members having criminal cases against them. Even CLP leader Narasingha Mishsra repeatedly went on alleging that the state government was trying to prove Naba Das murder case accused Gopal Das as mentally unstable. The opposition created ruckus on day to day basis demanding a transparent probe into Naba Das murder case.

This is for the first time in the Assembly that the Congress members were also furious against the government over the alleged officer raj as the LoP quite often raised the issue of governance and questions on several initiative’s accountability to the people. Jaynarayan Mishra raised the issue very often to the displeasure of the Treasury Bench many times leading to pandemonium in the House. Interestingly, the farmers issue, which often dominates Assembly sessions, this time did not prominently figured and the entire focus was on the law and order situation in the backdrop of the Naba Das killing.

Meanwhile, Manmohan Samal has also intensified the BJP campaign when Jaynarayan Mishra emerged as an able Leader of Opposition in the recent times due to his straight attack on the government, the ruling party and also Chief Minister.

The Governing BJD, despite having 112 members in the House of 147, was seen in defensive mode while the BJP (22) and Congress (9) continued to attack the ruling dispensation. Barring Debi Prasad Mishra, Arun Kumar Sahoo and few others, the Members of Treasury Bench remained cool in the House this time. Even CPI(M)’s lone member Laxman Munda was seen active.

Anyway, with elections left for about one year, Odisha politics seems to be taking a turn. The opposition is in an offensive mood and spirited to fight against the mighty BJD. The political situation across the state is likely to be hotter in coming days and BJD may also make a direct attack on the BJP. Though BJD criticizes the Odisha BJP, its leadership seems soft towards the saffron party’s central leadership. The BJD has so far not made the price rise as a major issue, which is the sore thumb of NDA Government.

While BJD Leadership is cool towards the BJP’s Central leadership, its’ silence on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament has now added confusion in the minds of people that the regional party is still in cordial relationship with the National BJP.

Whatever may be the relationship between two parties, it seems BJP Central Leadership has given ‘Green Signal’ to ‘Go Ahead’ with strengthening the party in Odisha as the National Leadership wants more Lok Sabha Seats from East. Also they are eyeing to get more Assembly seats. Obviously political scenario is changing and getting hotter.