Pradeep Pattanayak

With the recent posturing of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) keeping everyone guessing about a possible alliance, the Congress in the state has been in an upbeat mood. The Congress sees an opportunity to rise from the third position to the main Opposition party in case there is an alliance between the BJP and the BJD. 

In the 2019 Odisha Assembly election, 48 percent of votes were polled against the BJD. Of them, 32 percent of votes went to the BJP, and the rest 16 percent to the Congress. The Congress won nine Assembly seats and in 31 seats, it secured second position and in 20 seats, it gave its competitors a run for their money. At the same time, it came out victorious in the Koraput Lok Sabha seat. 

Now the party is eyeing at least 15 percent anti-incumbency votes. In that case, its vote share would touch 30 percent. 

The party has already shown some signs of regrouping by organising a women’s convention on February 21 and staging a Lok Seva Bhawan-gherao on February 24. 

“I have said it earlier that some prominent leaders of the BJP and BJD are in touch with us. We are fully prepared for 21 Parliamentary and 147 Assembly constituencies. With the blessings of Odisha people, Congress will form government in Odisha in 2024,” said OPCC chief, Sarat Pattanayak. 

Echoing the same, Congress Campaign Committee chairman Bijay Patnaik said, “Because of this alliance, be it a declared or an undeclared one, there is a growing perception among the voters of Odisha that Congress is the only alternative.”

Also Read: BJD making alliance with BJP fearing CBI and ED action: Congress  

On the other hand, both the BJP and the BJD targeted Congress for riding high. 

“There is nothing wrong in dreaming. But their body language doesn’t suggest that they will win. Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys the support of 90 percent people of Odisha and I don’t think, it will change,” said BJP spokesperson Surath Biswal. 

Similarly, BJD MLA Sambit Routray took a jibe at Congress. “I have nothing to say about what the Congress is thinking. It can’t even meet the booth expenses. But I would like to say that it has been seen that the decision of Naveen Patnaik is accepted by all.”

Political analyst Rabi Das said, “If the BJD and the BJP go for an alliance, some leaders won’t sit idle. They will contest the elections as independent candidates. If this happens, Congress will have some advantage.”

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