Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, June 1:
Notwithstanding the spectacular victory in the recent Lok Sabha that saw BJP winning an absolute majority on its own, factionalism within its Odisha unit shows no signs of abating.
Knives are being sharpened by the anti-KV Singhdeo faction in the party ahead of its state executive meet scheduled on June 4 which, by all indications, is going to be a stormy affair. This faction believes that if the party failed to cash in on the Modi wave that swept the rest of the country and had to be content with no more than one out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state, it was entirely due to the lacklustre leadership of the state unit.
The KV group, on its part, is seeking to shield itself against attack by pointing to the increased vote share of the party compared to its performance in the 2009 elections. But the rival faction is in no mood to countenance any such argument.
“In Odisha, though the vote percentage of the BJP has doubled after 2009 elections, yet the fact remains that it could win only one seat out of 21. For the debacle, mismanagement during conduct of election at the state level is the singular cause for which the leaders are responsible. Monopoly by certain leaders is squarely responsible, which has to be analysed and the individuals responsible should be shown the door, otherwise BJP will never be able to improve its position in Odisha,” said senior BJP leader and former vice-president Ashok Sahu in a Facebook post.
Sahu, who contested from and lost the Puri Lok Sabha seat, is known as a staunch supporter of Union Minister Jual Oram, who is the sole BJP leader from Odisha elected to Lok Sabha in the recent polls.
Given the fact that Singhdeo and Oram have no love lost between them, the Union Cabinet Minister can be trusted to use his position to cut the BJP president to size.
Aware of the damage potential of the factional feud, senior BJP leader and former president of the state unit Suresh Pujari sought to do some quick damage control beseeching both sides to exercise restraint. “If anybody has some discontent over the polls debacle, he should knock at the appropriate forum. Since it is an internal matter of the party, the individual can lodge his protest before the party instead of rushing to the media.”
He, however, clarified that he had not seen Sahu’s comment.
Union minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan adds another dimension to the bitter factional feud within the BJP state unit. He is not aligned to either of the two main groups, but is likely to side with Singhdeo because of his rivalry with the tribal leader from Sundargarh which was in ample evidence on the day of the swearing in of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. Oram’s name and picture were conspicuously missing from the placards on display as ecstatic party workers celebrated the event and shoved laddus into each other’s mouth. It was Pradhan all the way, notwithstanding the fact that he was only a minister of state, though with independent charge, while Oram had been made a cabinet minister.