Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 19:
Even as hectic parleys are on in Delhi for the formation of the BJP-led NDA government at Centre, workers and leaders of the BJP in Odisha are keenly watching the developments to see whether it would be Jual Oram or Dharmendra Pradhan, who would finally make it to Team Modi.
While senior BJP leader and national vice president Jual Oram is the only BJP MP from Odisha in the new Lok Sabha, Dharmendra Pradhan, the national general secretary of the party and a Rajya Sabha member from Bihar is also a strong contender, say party sources.
Pradhan who got elected to the Upper House in 2012 from Bihar, is also the central observer of the party for the state.
Oram, a tribal leader, is a three time state BJP president and a former member of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet, who was assigned the important ministry of Tribal Affairs.
He is also the incumbent national vice-president of the BJP and is a better known critic of Naveen Patnaik than Pradhan.
Pradhan, who is perceived to be close to Narendra Modi, has been the party Pravari in three states. He has been in the good books of the central leadership of the party for his organizational skills, party sources said.
However, both the leaders say they will abide the final decision of party with regard to the ministerial berth.
“I have come here to work for the people and the party. I am ready to accept whatever assignment or role is given to me by the party,” said Pradhan.
The Sundargarh MP Oram also reacted in the same manner when asked about his chances to be a part of the Modi cabinet.
While both the leaders are strong contenders for ministerial berths, Modi will certainly look into the broader national character of his council of ministers before finalising the list from among the contenders, a senior BJP leader refusing to spell out his own preference said.
The fact that the mandate of people has gone against the party in the state, the Prime Minister designate will take that into serious consideration while choosing one of the two for his team, he said.
BJP’s resounding victory across the country has also made the task of choosing ministerial colleagues a tad difficult for Modi, as there are many aspirants among the senior leaders in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
Modi has the onerous task of maintaining a balance among regions, castes, genders and of course experience while choosing his team. Besides, leaders of some states that are going to have Assembly elections in the near future, may need to be accommodated.
Since there is little chance that both Oram and Pradhan would be taken in, there is considerable curiosity and speculation among the party rank and file over who finally would weigh heavier than the other in the final calculation.