Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 14:
“Once bitten, twice shy”: this adage describes the plight of BJP leaders and cadres in Odisha aptly. Even as the core committee of the party, which met here yesterday, resolved to go all out against the Naveen Patnaik government in the state, state unit leaders are wary of cutting a sorry figure given the central leadership’s scarcely concealed reluctance to take battle to the BJD camp.
The apprehensions of the state unit are well founded. Not long ago, BJP national president Amit Shah had left state leaders red-faced after he refrained from uttering a word against Naveen Patnaik and his government during the ‘Mahasangram’ rally in the Odisha capital, which was billed as the ‘beginning fo the end of the Naveen Patnaik government’ by state leaders in the run up to the event.
Like other Opposition parties, Shah’s refusal to take on Naveen convinced BJP cadres too that there was a BJP-BJD ‘deal’ of sorts.
Raising doubts over the intention of the higher-ups at New Delhi, a senior state BJP leader said on condition of anonymity: “Every time we devise strategy to corner the government, Naveen Patnaik flies to New Delhi to meet Central leaders and bolster his relationship with them.”
Political analysts are also of the view that the state leaders are unable to read the Central unit’s strategy. They are planning to play a long innings in the state, which is evident from the fact that Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan have been given Cabinet berths, despite the party’s dismal show in the state in the last elections. This apart, Draupadi Murmu’s appointment as Jharkhand Governor and former Odisha Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang’s induction into the party fold signals that the saffron party is in for a long haul in Odisha.
The central leadership is reportedly of the view that if the BJP launches an all-out attack on the BJD government, it is going to do more harm than good to the party. That is why the BJP is trying to first decimate the grand old Congress party in the state. This strategy would pave the way for the BJP for a two-way fight rather than a three-cornered battle in the upcoming elections, an analyst said.
In the last Assembly election in Odisha, the Congress was in the second position in almost 90 constituencies and polled considerable votes in most of the constituencies. Notably, the BJP fared miserably in two-thirds of the 147 Assembly seats in the state.
Eyeing the forthcoming panchayat elections in 2017 and the 2019 Assembly polls, the party is preparing a strategy to attack the government on its failure on three counts namely: power crisis, drinking water facility and healthcare.
The political programme implementation committee (PPIC) headed by Bijay Mohapatra on Saturday held its core committee meeting here and decided to launch public agitation at the block level on issues affecting common people.
The three major issues are: the jaundice claiming several lives across the state, the deteriorating health care services leading to a large number of doctors’ posts lying vacant and the power crisis in the state.
The party would convene another meeting of 147 MLA and 21 MP candidates in the last elections on June 18. The meeting would to be attended by national BJP general secretary Ramlal who will take a call on the issues to be taken up by the party in the coming months.
The various proposals of the state unit leaders have been accepted by Odisha in-charge Arun Singh and two Union Ministers from Odisha. Besides, the central leader has nudged state leaders to initiate the process to induct disgruntled leaders from other parties to join BJP.
“There are many leaders in other political parties who are ignored by their party leadership. They are feeling suffocated. If they want to join BJP, we would welcome them,” said senior leader Bijay Mohapatra.