The Congress now stands weakened. Pre-poll desertions by strong leaders have shaken the morale of the party’s rank and file.
BHUBANESWAR: The recent strident attack by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and BJP membership drive head Shivraj Singh Chouhan on the policies of Odisha chief minister vis a vis agriculture, irrigation and job generation, is significant and indicates a calculated bid by the saffron party to grab power in the state.
The soft-spoken leader, who was here last week to launch the party’s membership drive, not only dubbed the state government “corrupt” and “inefficient,” but also announced that his party would overthrow the BJD government in the 2024 polls, hinting that the saffron party despite getting all support from the BJD was bent on adding Odisha to its kitty.
Although the BJD, the main contender of the BJP in the state, has in the recent past behaved like a docile partner of the saffron party especially when it comes to passing of crucial bills in Parliament, the latter has shown no change of heart for the regional party as it sees itself at a striking distance to grab power.
Sources in the BJP said unless the party makes serious bids to grab power in 2024, it might miss the train for decades. The party strategists feel the self-decimation of the Congress in the state and the BJD’s current porous status are ideal conditions to raise the level of the organisation to an unassailable height.
The Congress in Odisha now stands weakened and destabilised. Pre-poll desertions by strong leaders of the party and subsequent poor show in the twin polls for the Lok Sabha and state Assembly have shaken the morale of the party’s rank and file.
The party could win only nine Assembly and one Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 polls.
The BJD, despite retaining power for the consecutive fifth term with a massive 113 seats in the Assembly polls and bagging 12 Lok Sabha seats, does not appear that strong as it looked in previous four terms.
BJD president and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s growing reliance on bureaucrats to run the day-to-day administration and organisational affairs has virtually robbed the party’s rank and file of their strength to the increasing size of the BJP’s base, both in rural and urban areas.
The BJP, in the recent past, has comparatively attracted more leaders from other parties, most importantly from the Congress, to its side than the BJD. Besides, more retired bureaucrats and other high-ranking former officials are getting attracted to the saffron brigade, signalling the party’s upward journey.
“Many expected that after the BJD’s support to the BJP-led NDA government on passing the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2019, Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 and abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the BJP will have a change of heart and the party would consider the regional party as an NDA-Plus constituent. Now that the BJP leaders have resumed firing salvos at the BJD, it indicates that they are firm on their mission to capture Odisha, soon or later,” said Mr Prasanna Mohanty, political commentator.