Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After remaining in power for 23-long-years in Odisha, discussions are now rife that ruling-BJD is preparing a new strategy to beat the anti-incumbency and counter the Opposition BJP in the ensuing 2024 general elections.

To checkmate the BJP and its Hindutva agenda, many believe that the BJD seems to be focusing on its ‘Jai Jagannath’ slogan and the OBC (other backward classes) survey. On the other hand, BJP has vowed to play spoilsport in the execution of BJD’s new strategy.

The ruling party is now focused to keep the OBC card close to its chest and is hopeful that the strategy will act as a game changer for them in the forthcoming 2024 general elections.

While the Union government is currently laying emphasis on the Other Backward Classes (OBC), BJD is also trying to woo the community. Odisha government has stated that it will carry out its own OBC survey in the State from May 1 for the enumeration of 208 classes and their socio-economic conditions.

As more than 50 per cent of Odisha’s population belongs to OBC, Odisha government is likely to announce a special package for the category much ahead of the next polls.

On the other hand, Opposition BJP has started village-to-village and door-to-door campaigns across the State to spread awareness among the people about the neglect of the BJD government toward the other backward classes. The OBC front of the saffron party has also prepared special plans of organizing rallies and public meetings at various places.

“Odisha government has done nothing for the development of backward classes in the State so far. As the election is coming, they have planned to carry out the OBC survey hastily to woo voters. BJP’s OBC front has started a door-to-door campaign to make people aware of the State government’s neglect towards the other backward classes,” said Odisha BJP President, Manmohan Samal.

Meanwhile, Congress termed BJD’s concern towards the OBCs in the State as fake.
“BJD has done nothing for the development of OBCs in the State. As the election is approaching, BJD has woken up from its deep slumber. Only Congress has worked for the upliftment of OBCs,” said senior Congress leader, Sura Routray.

However, the BJD refuted the allegations of the Opposition parties.

“Nobody can give any particular proof that BJD has neglected OBCs. It’s a baseless and false allegation. In fact, this government gives utmost importance to OBCs. When they carry out door-to-door campaigns, they will understand from the responses of people,” said government chief whip, Prasant Muduli.

As per the process of the survey, a form has to be filled up at the centre or online. However, it is demanded that the survey should be conducted through door-to-door visits. Meanwhile, block and district-level training has already been imparted and a deadline has been set to complete the survey in July.

“As per the procedure of the survey, basic data are to be filled up in the form. Block-level training has been completed. The actual surveyors are currently being imparted training. Following its completion, the survey will commence and it will be completed in July,” said Balasore Collector, Dattatraya Bhausaheb Shinde.

Currently, Odisha has reservation quotas of 22.5 per cent, 16.25 per cent and 11.25 for SC, ST and OBC categories respectively. It remains to be seen whether the reservation quotas for the OBCs will be increased after the completion of the survey.

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