The BJP, after its astounding performance in 2017 rural polls, dreams to come to power in the state in 2019.
Grapevine has it that some of the Congress MLAs are in touch with BJD president and CM Naveen Patnaik and they might defect the party anytime between December and January.
Political situation in Odisha has turned murky with all the major parties in the state facing an increasing trend of pre-poll defections — unsettling their goals.
Formation of a new regional party by a top estranged BJD leader has also made the political scene unclear, making it impossible for poll pundits to predict the outcome of the 2019 Assembly elections.
The Congress, the major Opposition party that has been trying to grab power, has been hit hard by the defection trend. The grand old party, which had lost its towering leader and former chief minister Giridhari Gamang to BJP a couple of years ago, recently saw former Union minister Chandrasekhar Sahu quitting the party and joining the regional Biju Janata Dal (BJD) headed by Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Very recently, Congress’s north Odisha stalwart Padmalochan Panda and former Mohana MLA Chakradhar Paika quit the party.
While Padmolochan joined BJP, Chakradhar went to BJD.
Grapevine has it that some of the Congress MLAs are in touch with the BJD president and CM Naveen Patnaik and they might defect the party anytime between December and January. At least six to seven of the 16 MLAs, the sources informed, have already initiated talks with the BJD leadership.
The growing relationship between state Congress working president and Jharsuguda MLA Naba Kishore Das and BJD president Naveen Patnaik and Opposition chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati’s “suicidal support” on the treasury bench members on the floor of the Assembly have also fuelled speculations about the two making some surprising move, pushing the party into an unrecoverable phase. The ruling BJD’s nightmare with regard to defection is no less worrying.
Party’s leading tribal face and CM Naveen Patnaik’s former cabinet colleague Jayaram Pangi joined the BJP. Two other top BJD leaders — party’s strong minority face Dr Hamid Hussain and former MLA Hema Gamang – also quit the ruling party alleging negligence by the leadership and lack of democratic atmosphere.
Dr Hussain joined the Congress while Mrs Gamang, wife of ex-CM Giridhari Gamang, remains undecided about her next move.
Sources in the BJD said over a dozen of disgruntled leaders, some of the sitting MLAs who have lean chances of getting tickets to contest the 2019 Assembly polls, are planning to quit the party and join the BJP and Congress.
“Many of the top leaders of BJD and Congress are in touch with us and they would join the BJP soon,” said Arun Singh, BJP general secretary in charge of Odisha affairs.
The BJP, after its astounding performance in 2017 rural polls, dreams to come to power in the state in 2019. It also has its share of defection woes. Its two frontline leaders — Bijoy Mohapatra and Dilip Ray — resigned from the party this month, citing that they were ignored by a section of “influential” leaders. Both the leaders have said they would announce their next course of action later this month.
Sources informed that the BJP is trying to give a surprise to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his one-day visit to Odisha on December 24 by drafting some potential BJD and Congress leaders into the party.
Mr Modi would address a public meeting at Khurda, apparently to set the tone for the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state early next year.
The Congress, sources in the party said, also plans similar exercise during the visit of party president Rahul Gandhi to the state later this month.
Mr Gandhi, according to Odisha Pradesh Congress president Niranjan Patnaik, would have a two-day visit to the state in month-end and address public meetings. It aims to poach some leading faces in the BJD and BJP.
“Things have not yet shaped up. A concrete picture on Odisha’s politics would emerge after the visits by PM Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi later this month. In all probability, December will mark the peak of defection activities as leaders changing parties in January or subsequent months will have less chance to be accommodated in ticket lists,” said a political analyst.
Formation of a new political party Samanta Kranti Dal by estranged BJD leader Damodar Rout has also added to the confusion in the state politics. A few neglected BJD leaders are in touch with Dr Rout to join the new party, informed sources.