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Shah Sweetens Connect

Bhubaneswar: Odisha BJP State President Manmohan Samal recently said the saffron party will spring a surprise when the results of the 2024 elections are out. Shri Samal means that despite all speculations of BJD forming Government for the sixth consecutive time this time also, the BJP will form Government as per an internal survey. However, nobody knows the basis of the BJP’s survey based on which Saffron Veteran has been forecasting a saffron cloud over Odisha’s political arena.

BJP which emerged as the state’s principal opposition party by replacing the Congress after the 2019 elections, now seen in different colors. The people in general no more consider BJP as the main opposition party after party stalwart and Union Home Minister Amit Shah openly praising Naveen Patnaik. Odisha’s BJP Face Dharmendra Pradhan has also admitted that Naveen is a ‘gentleman politician’, who never indulges in making personal attacks on any politician in the country. Taking both Shri Shah and Shri Pradhan’s statements together, it can safely be concluded that the BJP as a whole, both the central leadership and state leaders, all in praise for BJD Supremo.

If the state’s main opposition party goes on praising the President of the rival ruling party, what message do the people of Odisha get? The people are no longer illinformed in this age of technology. They get all information through social media and the secret meeting between Amit Shah, Naveen Patnaik and Secretary V K Pandian, is no more unknown to the voters. The BJP stalwart met a bureaucrat whom the Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan used to refer to as “Junior Officer’ and “Gumatsa” respectively. Shri Shah meeting the all powerful bureaucrat has boosted the image of the latter and now BJP leaders have their lip sealed in the state.

It is another matter what Shri Shah told the Top Mandarin and vice-versa is not known. But, the fact remains that all powerful Saffron Chanakya met the Ace Mandarin. It is significant that the MPs and MLAs of Odisha BJP have to wait to get a meeting with Shri Shah. But, here the Ace Mandarin could easily meet the Number Two of National Government, thus boosting his image in the state.

After Shri Shah’s recent Odisha visit, the people in the BJP are really worried over the future of the saffron party in the state. Can they now attack Naveen Patnaik and his Secretary, whom Minister Home Affairs met and praised. It is another matter that Shri Shah has called upon the saffron rank and file to stage agitation against corruption and irregularities In the BJD government. At the same time, they have been given a clear message not to antagonize Naveen Patnaik in Odisha.

This is not that the BJP has alone praised Naveen. The BJD has also buried its long standing slogan “Central Negligence” when Naveen praised the centre for supporting Odisha’s developments. BJD Lok Sabha leader Pinaki Mishra also in the Parliament praised the BJP led NDA Government for supporting the state’s issues. However, Odisha’s long standing demand of getting the status of a special category state or a special focus state tag, still remained to be addressed. Odisha’s vexed problem of the River Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh, also remains unresolved and the centre prefers not to poke its nose in the matter.  Though a large number of demands remain unresolved, the BJD has praised the BJP and the Union Government.

The recent developments have clearly given a message that both the BJD and the BJP are getting close to each other. Even there is discussion on formation of an alliance between the two parties. Both the BJD and the BJP have ruled the state in a coalition government from 2000 to 2009. Then the situation was different. Both the BJD and BJP joined hands in order to defeat Congress in the state. Meanwhile, Congress has almost been wiped out of the state politics when its party candidate could win only nine seats in the 147 member Odisha Assembly and only one Lok Sabha seat out of 21 seats in the lower house of the Parliament. The Congress’s vote share has also nosedived to only 15-16 per cent from 40 per cent in 2000. However, the BJP has gained in the process and therefore gets around 38 per cent votes in Odisha. The party became the number two political party in the state while BJD continued to remain as number one with about 50 per cent votes.

Keeping in view the present political situation, the BJD no longer required the help of BJP as the Congress is on wane. Therefore, the question of alliance with the saffron party does not arise for the regional party. With almost One Crore people becoming members of BJD from among 3.29 votes in the state, the regional party is marching ahead and maintaining its vote share to lead the party.

 The BJP on the other hand struggles with 38 per cent vote and finds it difficult to overtake BJD and form Government in the state. There is apparently no growth for the BJP after the 2019 general elections. The saffron party has lost in all the six by-polls held after 2019 except retaining Dhamnagar assembly segment. It also lost the Balasore assembly segment to BJD.

This apart, the BJP’s vote share in rural and urban polls has also declined in comparison to 2017 three tire rural elections. Though the BJP has been raising certain issues, the saffron party has not been able to take any of the problems to the logical end. All agitations are left half way for which perhaps, Shri Shah during his recent visit told party men to fight till finish.

Shri Shah’s recent visit to Odisha has sweetened the connect of BJP with BJD in the state. However it has created more confusion among the people and the dilemma for the party workers. The BJP leaders are now confused whether to support BJD or fight it out. After Shri Shah prasing Naveen, there may be hardly any leader in Odisha who can dare to point an accusing finger at the Chief Minister and BJD Supremo. Now a tall leader like Naveen Patnaik will be calling the shots.