Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Internal feud between some heavyweight leaders of BJD in south Odisha has become a major challenge for the party ahead of the 2024 General Elections. The ruling party is tense over the cold war between many leaders in districts like Koraput, Rayagada and Nabarangpur. Moreover, with many other BJD leaders switching their allegiance to other parties, the ruling party is expected to have a tough time ahead.

The cold war between senior BJD leaders Rabi Nanda and Iswar Panigrahi in Koraput and rivalry between Ramesh Majhi, and Pradeep Majhi in Nabarangpur has intensified the party’s problem. The situation is also more or less the same in Rayagada.

As the situation worsened in Koraput after the 2019 elections, the party appointed organisational secretary, Pranab Prakash Das as the observer in the district. However, nothing changed; rather things have become worse since.

As per reports, resentment is brewing within the party and many leaders have left BJD to join Opposition BJP in recent times. Among those leaders, the most prominent is former MLA candidate of Koraput, Raghuram Macha. As per sources, Raghuram left the party due to the feud between former district president of BJD- Iswar Panigrahi who is known to be a close aide of Pranab. In a bid to pacify Raghuram, the party replaced Iswar with Jhina Hikaka as the district president of the BJD. However, the damage could not be controlled; rather Jhina was isolated with Iswar calling all the shots. Subsequently, a conflict also developed between Iswar and senior leader, Rabi Nanda. As a result, the panchayat and municipal elections were severely affected. 

BJD Leader from Jajpur, Himanshu Mohapatra has also joined the saffron party in the recent past. 

“There are several leaders and workers in BJD who have been neglected and suppressed for a long time. They will join BJP soon,” said Raghuram.

However, Iswar refuted any such possibility.

“BJD is a huge party and there is bound to be a difference of opinions among some leaders and workers. The party is in a very strong position in the undivided Koraput district and it will perform well in the upcoming election,” said Iswar.

BJD is facing similar problems in other southern Odisha districts. A cold war is also going on between senior leader N Bhaskar Rao and district president Sudhir Das in Rayagada. Both the leaders are not found together in party programmes anymore. Independent candidate Makaranda Muduli had taken advantage of the situation in the 2019 election by winning the seat. Moreover, taking full advantage of the internal feud between BJD leaders, many independent candidates also stole the show in Gunupur block and municipal elections.

In Nabarangapur, ruling party MP, Ramesh Majhi and senior leader Pradeep Majhi are at loggerheads.

However, as per the BJD leaders, all of them are united and there are no internal feuds among them.

“I am a mere worker of the party. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is the main leader of the party. He knows the best about the kind of decisions to be taken and the responsibilities to be given at the right time,” said N Bhaskar Rao.

“There are no internal feuds in BJD. The party is united as before,” said MP Ramesh Majhi.

South Odisha was once the fort of Congress. But, the BJD took over the reins in 2000 and its dominance is still continuing. However, internal squabbles between heavyweight leaders could cost the ruling party dear in the upcoming general elections.