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It’s All For The Tickets, Stupid !

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By Sandeep Sahu

Resignations, desertions, expulsions, homecoming, homeleaving, party making, party breaking, alliance making, alliance breaking, poaching, charges and counter charges … it’s all happening out there !

With the announcement of the schedule for the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly in Odisha by the Election Commission, there is a sudden buzz in political circles and plenty of behind-the-scene political activities in the state. But all it boils down to in the final analysis, is ticket and seat shopping.Golak Naik joins BJD

Take Thursday for instance. The day began with news of the expulsion of Amiya Pandav, the general secretary of the Odisha Jan Morcha (OJM) by party president Pyari Mohan Mohapatra for alleged ‘anti-party’ activities. Hardly had the news about the ‘expulsion’ of Pandav got around when the youth leader addressed a press conference in the company of several other colleagues to repudiate the ‘expulsion’ theory and claim that he had actually ‘resigned’ from the OJM in protest against the dictatorial ways of Mohapatra.

Before you could say ‘OJM’, Mohapatra appeared on television screens to accuse his former lieutenant of hobnobbing with the Ama Odisha Party after being denied a party ticket to contest from Rajnagar.

While Mohapatra and Pandav were engaged in throwing charges and counter charges at each other, there was plenty happening in the three major players in the election; BJD, Congress and BJP.

Former minister and long time BJP leader Golak Naik suddenly discovered that his party leaders were only ‘working to further their own interest’ and not that that of the party and joined the BJD, doing precisely what he had accused his former party leaders of doing.

But with elections having already been announced, you can hardly fault the former Khunta MLA for seeking the best possible bet to return to the Assembly – and maybe even the council of ministers.

On the other side of the political divide, former minister Kamala Das discovered – after nearly a decade in the Congress – that BJD was her ‘home’. “Where else can I go except go back home? After all, we had formed the party,” she said while breaking the news of her resignation from the Congress.

With Raghunath Mohanty having fallen from grace, she perhaps reckons that she has a good chance of realising her ambition of becoming minister again – so what if she left the cabinet and the BJD when party supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik found her under the ‘shadow of corruption’!

While the BJD is yet to react to her ‘homecoming’ offer, the consensus in political circles is that she could not have gone public on the issue without having some kind of an assurance from the ruling party leadership.

It remains to be seen though how the BJD boss defends taking back somebody who was thrown out of the government and the party on corruption charges – assuming that she has indeed been given such an assurance.

It is not just individual leaders who were engaged in backroom manoeuvres and public posturing. With very little time to decide on candidates for the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats, political parties too are under pressure to thrash out alliance making in a hurry.

Barely hours after BJP president Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo announced in Parlakhemundi that his party would have no truck with the OJM, the Samata Kranti Dal president Braja Kishore Tripathy told media persons in Bhubaneswar that his party would not tango with the BJP either.

The former minister vented his anger out at the media for speculating on the number of seats it had supposedly asked for to have an alliance with the saffron party. But he did not bother revealing what exactly had made him abandon talks with the BJP for a possible alliance in the state, if not the number of seats it was willing to concede.

While Ama Odisha and Utkal Bharat are yet to rule out an alliance with the BJP, Utkal Bharat founder president Kharavela Swain has made it amply clear that “It all depends on the seat sharing formula.”

If the hectic political activities all around prove anything, it is that it is all for tickets and seats.

The rest is mere posturing.