Saturday, October 31, 2020
Home Politics Odisha is not going to be an easy battle for BJP

Odisha is not going to be an easy battle for BJP

The architect of the election juggernaut Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Amit Shah, yesterday made it clear that, he is not resting on the laurels of the spectacular North East victory. He would not term it as the golden period of BJP, even though they are ruling 19 states, till BJP has its government formed in Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha.

Quoting Shah verbatim, “Jab tak Odisha, West Bengal aur Kerala mein BJP nahi aa jaati tab tak party ka golden period shuru nahi hoga. Karnataka mein to hum jeetenge hi“. If you interpret it in a certain way, what Shah means here is, though Karnataka is not going to be much of a struggle, they have to pull up their socks for the other three states.

However, among the three, Odisha is the only state where BJP once had a government, though in a coalition with Biju Janta Dal (BJD). This makes Odisha the easiest among the three, or is it? Let’s explore.

The current BJD dispensation headed by Naveen Patnaik is ruling its 4th term with 18 year already in government. Out of this, BJP was a coalition partner for the first 8 years from 2000 to 2008 when BJD severed its ties with BJP citing differences in seat sharing and due to BJP’s alleged involvement in Kandhamal riots which BJD thought will hurt its “secular credentials”.

Since then, the BJD has only added to its seat count and to Naveen Patnaik’s charisma, and in 2014 it had a massive clean sweep winning 117 out of 147 seats in the assembly. To unseat BJD with the current popularity wave it is riding, BJP has to do some serious thinking and solid groundwork before it can claim to win people’s mandate. 

What works for BJD

The first, foremost and probably the only pillar on which BJD is standing ground is Naveen Patnaik. His clean image, no-nonsense attitude and non-controversial as well as non-confrontational attitude has helped him not earn a lot of political detractors as opposed to the West Bengal or Kerala government. Outside political circles, his detractors or even BJP voters in general don’t talk too harsh about him. The same can not be said about Mamata or Left in Kerala.

Naveen doesn’t play religion card nor the caste card, thereby closing this avenue for opposition to consolidate votes. He doesn’t comment on unnecessary national issues where he doesn’t have a stake, he lies low, has not shown any explicit national ambition making him a amicable guy from both end of political spectrum. How many times have you heard Naveen commenting on Modi and compare that stat with Mamata.

Overall, he is seen as a sane, docile and all weather political leader as opposed to the rabble-rouser counterpart next door. One particular precedent I would like to state here is, both West Bengal and Odisha saw huge chit fund scams to the tunes of hundreds of crores. CBI raided and arrested leaders from both TMC and BJD, however the reaction from both leaders were poles apart.

While Mamata cried central govt vendetta, Naveen calmly passed it with the cliched “Law will take its own course”. Whether he is trying to stall the investigation through backdoor channels and protecting his men is a matter of speculation, but bottomline is, he came as a clean person while Mamata came across as someone shielding the corrupt.

What also helps Naveen is his authoritative image and almost a stranglehold over party matters. You can’t be in the bad books of Naveen and be in BJD. You have to toe the Naveen’s line while in BJD. However, through all this, Naveen doesn’t come as the strict dictator, in other words, he doesn’t allow the indisciplined member to be a martyr. No tall leader, after being expelled by Naveen has seen any remarkable success in politics, Jay Panda’s fate remains to be seen. But in all of this cases, people see the expelled member being the offender deserving the fate than Naveen being the authoritarian. 

Naveen till date has not undertaken any massive reforms, which ironically works in his favour. Take Narendra Modi for example. In 4 years of power, he has taken some gigantic decisions with mammoth political consequences. Demonetisation, GST, Aadhaar seeding to name a few. How much has he been successful is for the public to judge but when you undertake programs of such epic proportions, you lay a ground for people to judge you on your intention, execution and nobility of the programs. When you steer clear of any major reform, you don’t yield ground for the public to judge you! That works hugely in favour of Naveen.

And last but not the least, the shadow of his father, the legendary Biju Patnaik, adds to the  aura of Naveen, giving him credibility. These factors combined overshadows the 18 year anti-incumbency.

What doesn’t work for BJP

To weaken Naveen’s fort, the first thing the state BJP needs is a strong local leadership, which they are lacking. They don’t have a face who can be a credible replacement for Naveen. Someone, who exudes confidence and tells people that BJP can deliver but more importantly, deliver it better than Naveen.

The local leadership is highly fragmented. Senior leaders like Dilip Ray and Bijay Mohapatra are totally sidelined. So much so that they are not even invited for local meetings and campaigns. It’s anybody’s guess that, they are not going to contest on BJP’s ticket in 2019 if some drastic measures are not taken. State president Basant Panda is uninspiring. Old timers and Sangh affiliates like Pratap Sadangi are not in a position to take decisions. Sarat Pujari doesn’t gel well with Dharmendra Pradhan.

Dharmendra Pradhan himself is still seen as an outsider. He may be a good administrator but lacks electoral wisdom. His execution of the flagship Ujjwala scheme may go onto become one of the bullet points when Narendra Modi goes back to public asking for votes in 2019 but it doesn’t resonate with people here. They don’t connect with Dharmendra Pradhan. Fact remains that Dharmendra Pradhan neither has shown the electoral acumen who can lead his party to win against a formidable BJD. He won a Lok Sabha election last in 2004.

To add to this, the personal attacks on Naveen are proving to be detrimental. As a responsible opposition, BJP should show the inefficiency, corruption, nepotism and ineptitude of the government and BJD. Naveen is still seen as a personally clean leader. Any personal attack on Naveen Patnaik is not going to help the cause. What helps BJP is a weak and totally fractured state Congress unit. The BJP should try to consolidate Congress votes in its favour apart from luring BJD voters to its fold. But that strategy seems lacking.

If you look at BJP’s campaign in other states, one of the major focus is, how they are going to bring about changes if and when they come to power. The biggest two successes of BJP in state elections in recent past are Tripura and Uttar Pradesh and this was the central point of the campaign. In Odisha, that is totally lacking.

One of the most cliched comment of Naveen Patnaik, which is joked about among Odia people, is “Kendra Abahela” or the “centre’s (govt) neglect”. This is where BJP can earn some brownie points. For the first time, Odisha has given only 1 MP to the ruling dispensation at centre but has 2 cabinet ministers. BJP govt in the centre has not shown any step motherly attitude despite having a opposition govt at state. In fact, many flagship programmes of the petroleum ministry, headed by Dharmendra Pradhan have been inaugurated from Odisha itself.

IOCL refinery has been completed and made functional. Odisha has gotten it’s fair share in Sagarmala and NHDP programmes. Railway budget allocation, every year since 2014 has been much higher than previous years. Odisha got 3 airports in the UDAN scheme.

Even after increasing the grants in almost all departments, if the parameters and indices of the state are still not improving, then Naveen Patnaik clearly lacks execution skill. This can be a used as a narrative to make a headway into BJD’s claimed success story. Also, a subtle messaging about having same party at centre and state will definitely help the state to be put on higher growth trajectory should be tried as well.

Naveen has ruled for 4 terms and clearly headed for a record 5th term unless BJP gets its pieces together. There is a BJP uprising in the state and Naveen has taken note of it. In his 20 years of political career, Naveen for the 1st time, spent a night at during campaigning, during Bijepur by-poll which the party won. That tells a lot about how seriously Naveen is taking 2019.

This probably will be the last innings of Naveen before his retirement and he will try to score a ton here. Question is, what will it take for the BJP to unseat him but more importantly, does the state BJP have it in them to achieve this? Only time will tell.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Related Articles

Trending now

‘Osama bin Laden is less reprehensible than Trump,’ claims ‘rational atheist’ Sam Harris who once described the terrorist as a ‘moral hero in a...

Sam Harris claimed in his podcast Making Sense that Osama bin Laden is a less reprehensible person than Donald Trump.

IFCN certified fact-checking website throws a Hindu girl to wolves in Bangladesh in case where she went missing after alleged ‘insult’ to Prophet Muhammad:...

Despite being well aware that lives of Hindus are threatened in Bangladesh, newschecker.in has given way for Tithy's harassment.

The Second Republic: Why Narendra Modi drawing a comparison between Somnath Temple and Ram Mandir on Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is significant

The birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the 31st of October is commemorated as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.

Hindu girl, who was suspended from Bangladesh university for ‘insulting’ Prophet Muhammad, has been missing for 6 days: Here is what happened

Hindu girl Tithy Sarkar goes missing in Bangladesh after allegedly making comments that insulted Prophet Muhammad and Islam

Tauseef, who was harassing and forcing Nikita to convert to Islam, decided to kill her after watching web series ‘Mirzapur’: Report

During the interrogation, the accused Tauseef confessed to the police officials that he was inspired by the character of 'Munna' in the Mirzapur webseries.

‘They defend caricatures of Prophet Muhammad but expect Muslims to swallow it in name of FoE’: Malaysian ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad defends genocidal tweets

After asserting that Muslims had the right to kill millions of French people, former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad defended his obnoxious comments

Recently Popular

Tauseef, who was harassing and forcing Nikita to convert to Islam, decided to kill her after watching web series ‘Mirzapur’: Report

During the interrogation, the accused Tauseef confessed to the police officials that he was inspired by the character of 'Munna' in the Mirzapur webseries.

As Pakistan minister admits role in Pulwama attack, Rajdeep Sardesai rushes to his rescue, allows him to ‘clarify’, attack India instead, NDTV follows suit

India Today and NDTV come together to rescue Pakistan minister Fawad Chaudhry after he admitted Terroristan's role in Pulwama attack

Russia: Teenager shot dead after he shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’ and stabs police officer

On Friday, a 16-year-old terrorist was shot dead by police in the Muslim-dominated region of Tatarstan in Russia.

The Print columnist Zainab Sikander Siddiqui wants Charlie Hebdo to have the “guts” to mock the Holocaust if it wants to publish cartoons on...

Zainab Sikander Siddiqui ruled that Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking other religions are not offensive, only cartoons on Islam are offensive

Watch: Video emerges showing Sameet Thakkar being led by men with a rope, his face covered in black cloth while bringing to court

The person told us that she is well acquainted with people who personally know Sameet Thakkar and that is how she accessed the footage.

France wakes up to the menace of ‘Islamo-leftism’, an alliance between leftists and Islamists that has been attacking India for decades

The French education minister spoke out on the dangers of Islamo-leftism in the aftermath of the beheading of Samuel Paty.
- Advertisement -

‘Osama bin Laden is less reprehensible than Trump,’ claims ‘rational atheist’ Sam Harris who once described the terrorist as a ‘moral hero in a...

Sam Harris claimed in his podcast Making Sense that Osama bin Laden is a less reprehensible person than Donald Trump.

Facebook user Azharuddin Ansari announces bounty of Rs 1 Lakh to behead BJP leader Kapil Mishra

Kapil Mishra had recently taken to social media to support France, post violent protests calling for the beheading of those who insult Islam

IFCN certified fact-checking website throws a Hindu girl to wolves in Bangladesh in case where she went missing after alleged ‘insult’ to Prophet Muhammad:...

Despite being well aware that lives of Hindus are threatened in Bangladesh, newschecker.in has given way for Tithy's harassment.

Pakistan blocks Indian ex-Muslim atheist YouTuber for videos criticising Islam and its prophet, asking Muslims to leave the religion

Pakistan has blocked the YouTube channel of an Indian YouTuber who goes by the name of Zafar Heretic, an ex-Muslim atheist.

Watch: Pro-Hindu Netizens gate-crash Zoom meeting of top Pakistani Army officers, play ‘Sri Ram Janki’ and Indian National Anthem

A pro-Hindu group, who identified themselves as 'Trad Mahasabha', raided the Zoom meeting by playing a bhajan to Lord Ram

Gujarat: Alam, obsessed with factory owner Ramu Goswami’s wife, stabs him to death in front of wife and three-year-old child

Ramu Santram Goswami was killed by a man named Alam and his two associates–Ali and Satla because he was obsessed with the factory owner's wife

Congress leader holds protest after Friday Namaz, demands Telangana bans French products, blames PM Modi for ‘inciting Indian Muslims’

After Bhopal, a Congress leader led protest against France in Telangana, demanding that the state bans French products and condemn the President

‘Building Ram Mandir is an extension of Sardar Patel’s vision of restoring country’s cultural pride’: Key takeaways of PM Modi’s speech in Kevadia

PM Modi is in Gujarat for two-day visit, where he inaugurated 17 new tourist attractions and projects near Statue of Unity in Kevadia

The Second Republic: Why Narendra Modi drawing a comparison between Somnath Temple and Ram Mandir on Rashtriya Ekta Diwas is significant

The birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the 31st of October is commemorated as the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas.

French politician calls for ban on immigration from Bangladesh and Pakistan post violent protests calling for beheading of those who insult Islam

Ten Thousands of Muslims hit the streets of the Bangladesh capital city, calling for a boycott on French products

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
472,141FollowersFollow
19,500SubscribersSubscribe