Himansu Shekhar Rout

With the 2024 General Elections hardly a few months away, all three major parties, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress in Odisha are pulling up their socks.
The opposition BJP and Congress, apart from regular reviews of their organizational matters, have started brainstorming on major issues on which they can attack the ruling party/dispensation. On the other hand, the ruling BJD is reportedly leaving no stone unturned to keep its vote bank intact even as the government is allegedly loosening its purse strings for new schemes which are being launched one after another well before the elections.

More significantly, signals are being sent by the BJD that party supremo Naveen Patnaik himself will tour districts as part of the strategy to play to the galleries. 

However, the parties are keeping a close eye on the results of the Assembly elections of five states including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Mizoram and Chhattisgarh. The results are expected to set the political tone and indicate the mood of the voters, it is said.

Meanwhile, organizational meetings and party hopping have started with their frequency expected to gather pace. According to sources, CM Naveen Patnaik will soon get out on the field to campaign in 30 districts amid reports that he would be accompanied by 5T chairperson, VK Pandian. 

BJD leader and Higher Education Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak sounded confident of the BJD’s electoral prospects and said, “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the BJD have always been with the people. The Chief Minister is attending programmes meant for the people. As the party is with and for the people, the public mandate has come in our favour.”    

Meanwhile, the BJP has been targeting the ruling party over various issues and loopholes in the schemes by organizing protest rallies from the panchayat level to the state level. The saffron party is trying to weaponise issues like widespread corruption, high cuts in government projects, alleged hijacking of the Central schemes, tribal land transfer row and the deterioration of the law and order situation. 

As for the elections, Manmohan Samal, President of Odisha BJP said, “Keeping the elections in view, programmes and activities of the party will be carried out accordingly. We have our strategies ready for a year. We will go round the state in a phased manner.”

He also claimed that the confidence of the BJD has plummeted. “If the BJD has worked for the people, there is no need for the CM to tour the districts. People will fight against the BJD this time to bring BJP to power,” he asserted.      

The Congress, which is also drawing a blueprint of issues to be highlighted, held its state executive body meeting on Saturday and made poll strategies to give a tough fight to the BJD and BJP. After the results of the Assembly elections in the five states are out, Congress has decided to organize a Mahasamabesh in front of the Assembly this month, apart from making a plan to hold massive rallies by roping in party leaders like AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge, Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the second week of January 2024.

Also Read: 2024 general election: Political parties sharpen focus on new urban voters in Odisha

Odisha Congress president, Sarat Pattanayak said, “People of Odisha have seen what the BJD government has done for the state in the last 24 years. Lakhs of workers are migrating out of the state. If the government had done something for their livelihood, they would not be going out. Violence and atrocities against women are growing. Now people are in a quandary about who is running the show- Naveen Patnaik or VK Pandian. The people of Odisha will definitely bless the Congress this time.”

Senior Journalist Prasanna Mohanty said, “The BJD will fight elections in the name of Naveen Patnaik, though there may be a change at the organizational level. Congress has started its homework. In the case of the BJP, Union ministers have started frequenting the state and lashing out at the state government on various issues. However, the party has not yet opened its card, but should make its stand clear in the days to come.”

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