Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Lucknow/ Bhubaneswar Apr 30:
The Lucknow parliamentary constituency, a prestigious seat for the BJP over the years, happens to be a demographic potpourri of sorts- Muslims -Shia and Sunnis, Brahmins, Yadavs, Dalits, Rajputs, Uttaranchalis and, if you did not know, a 50,000-strong community of people from Odisha.
No wonder, the BJP, which has fielded its national president Rajnath Singh here, has taken the Odia vote bank rather seriously.
Most of the Odias in this city are blue-collared workers -plumbers, masons, fitters and electricians.
A sizable number of these non-resident Odias are second generation residents, who have been part of this city for years. They form the backbone of the construction industry that is currently riding a boom here but sadly, lead their lives in nondescript slums sans the most basic amenities.
Then there is a smaller community of white-collared Odias that includes teachers, bureaucrats and IT professionals.
The local Oriya Samaj, formed in 1993 serves as a platform that unites all Odias, irrespective of their social profile, on all festive occasions- be it the Rath Yatra, Boita Bondana, Raja or the Utkal Divas and also the first to respond with help whenever any calamity strikes Odsiha.
A BJP team from Odisha including former state general secretary Murli Manohar Sharma and state media convener Anil Dhir are camping here to woo the Odia voters by promising them better times.
The blue-collared workers are being told that their bastis will now be provided with basic amenities and facilities while the rest, including the Odia elite, have been promised all help in building a Jagannath temple in the city.
The Odisha BJP team has been campaigning vigorously in the Odia colonies at Vivekananda Puri, Indira Nagar and Nishat Ganj and holding rallies across the city over the last seven days.
But will the Odia community favour the saffron party this time ?
” It will not be a case of en masse voting for this or that party. We may be from the same state and share the same traditions and language but each of us has his or her own way of looking at things, ” a young Odia IT professional told OST over phone.
” However, fellow Odias living in the slums may have a reason to support the BJP because of its promise to offer the basic amenities which they lack today,” he said.