Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Following BJD’s poll debacle in the recently-concluded 2024 General Elections, many political analysts and BJD workers blamed 5T Chairman VK Pandian for the party’s poor show. However, the delay in review of BJD’s unexpected defeat and some leaders evading questions pertaining to Pandian have raised suspicion that his clout in the Opposition party is still intact.

Many political experts are of the opinion that BJD has not yet been able to accept the unexpected defeat and as a reason they have not reviewed the causes behind the fiasco. The fact-finding team comprising senior leaders is yet to be formed even after 15 days. The mysterious silence has raised many questions. According to some political analysts, despite announcing retirement from active politics, Pandian is still ruling the roost in BJD. While some BJD leaders are opposing Pandian, many others are still avoiding to comment anything about him.

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Pandian was in the eye of the storm after BJD’s disastrous performance in the last General Elections. A certain group had expressed their resentment about Pandian. Even some youth leaders of the party had shouted slogans against the Chief Minister’s close aide at Sankha Bhawan, the BJD’s headquarters in Bhubaneswar. However, Naveen gave Pandian a clean chit and urged the party supporters not to blame him for the party’s defeat.

BJD Leaders Take On Party’s Defeat

Meanwhile, senior BJD leader Badri Narayan Patra attributed overconfidence as the main reason behind the party’s defeat.

“There are many reasons behind BJD’s defeat. The party became complacent and took victory for granted. Those who became very much complacent were defeated. Odia ‘Asmita’ factor has also worked in BJD’s defeat,” said Patra.

However, he evaded the question pertaining to Pandian by saying that discussions will be held in this regard later.

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According to BJD MLA Arun Sahoo, universal, regional and individual factors are responsible for BJD’s defeat.

“A committee will be formed comprising some senior leaders and they will review the reason behind BJD’s defeat. There are individual, regional and universal factors behind the party’s poor show,” said Sahoo.

Decision On Leader Of Opposition

Amid introspection about possible reasons behind BJD’s defeat, a meeting of party MLAs is likely to be held on Wednesday to choose the leader of the Opposition. Speculation is rife that Naveen is most likely to be selected as the leader of the Opposition. However, questions are being raised over the effectiveness of the move as Naveen was seldom coming to the Assembly when he was the Chief Minister. Hence, the party may select a senior leader as Naveen’s deputy. BJD vice-president Prasanna Acharya is leading the race for the post. While senior MLA Pramila Mallick is most likely to be the chief whip of the party, Pratap Deb is likely to be selected as her deputy.

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“The meeting of MLAs will be held at Sankha Bhawan at 4.30 pm on Wednesday. The decision regarding the selection of the leader of the Opposition is most likely to be taken tomorrow. Unanimous decision may be taken to select Naveen Patnaik as the leader of the Opposition,” said senior BJD leader Aswini Patra.

Though Pandian has announced his retirement from active politics, he is reportedly staying in Bhubaneswar and often visiting Naveen Niwas. Now, it remains to be seen how far BJD is free from Pandian, who has already announced retirement from active politics?

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