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Pradeep Pattanayak

This New Year is going to be a tough call for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) as well as Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress with the Panchayat and civic body elections going to be reality checks of popularity and grassroots hold.

Ahead of the elections, the ruling BJD has three challenges to overcome. One is to quell the ever increasing dissension in the party and rehabilitate the leaders who recently crossed over from the BJP and Congress. 

Second is not to let anti-BJD wave grow and to keep the clean image of party Sepremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik intact. 

And the third one is to make the party organised from grassroot level. 

Similarly, the saffron party is looking forward to win the elections by taking the message of the Central government’s good governance to each and every voter, making people aware of the failures of the ruling dispensation and by strengthening the party from the booth level itself. 

The bigger challenge that has emerged before the grand old party Congress is to get the party arranged. After many of its leaders defected to the BJD, the challenges before the seniors now is to enhance the confidence of the workers at the ground level. 

“As a regional party, we have been achieving success by virtue of our Chief Minister’s clean image. We will again receive people’s support,” said Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Minister Ashok Chandra Panda. 

State BJP president, Samir Mohanty said the party is always ready to face elections." The BJD is propaganda-oriented, trying to garner votes by doling out schemes and programmes. This time, people will give it a befitting reply," he said.

“Youths are unemployed, women are harassed and farmers are in distress. We will fight the elections on the principle of Mahatma Gandhi. The ruling party has commercialised democracry and our aim is to get it back to its original form,” said OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik. 

In the 2017 Panchayat elections, the BJP managed to win people’s confidence and registered a good performance. But on the part of the Congress, it lost voters’ faith in the elections. 

This time around, relying on its past experience, the BJD has started its preparations from grassroots level and launched a slew of populist schemes and yojanas. Its leaders are now camped in Panchayats. 

At the same time, the BJP has taken up issues like safety to women and farmers' distress as its poll strategy. And the Congress is trying its best to maintain a balance between its leaders. 

Some political pundits have started saying that this year is going to be an acid test for all parties before 2024 general elections. 

“For the Congress, infighting has emerged a bigger problem. Similarly, the BJP is facing a lack of balance. And for BJD, the rehabilitation of new leaders is creating resentment within the party. Ahead of general elections in 2024, these elections will act as litmus test for these three parties,” observed Prasanna Mohanty, political analyst.

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