Vikash Sharma

Hectic political parleys have begun in Odisha ahead of the crucial general elections 2024. Though a formal notification regarding the poll dates is yet to be announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI), the major political parties have already stepped up their preparations in the state.

It will be a litmus test for the three major political parties in Odisha- BJD, BJP and the Congress. Of late, the Odisha unit of Congress has started to re-organise under its new PCC chief Sarat Pattnayak and in-charge Ajoy Kumar.

Even though a direct fight is on the cards between the ruling BJD and the BJP to grab power, all eyes are also on the Congress here to witness if the grand old party can put up a good show in the 2024 polls in Odisha by doing better than the last election.

Meanwhile, the state leadership of Congress has upped the ante and decided to announce all its candidates in the first week of March. This time, applications were invited online from candidates keen to contest the upcoming polls. Sources said that the Team Ajoy Kumar has already given its feedback and a final decision will soon be taken by the screening committee.

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What would be more interesting to watch whether the Congress would be able to accommodate BJD and BJP dissidents? Such speculations are rife since Odisha Congress In-charge Ajoy Kumar stated that there was dissidence in BJD and a lot of leaders are in touch with the Congress.

These speculations assume significance in the backdrop that the ruling BJD is grappling with several issues, including infighting and multiple candidates per constituency or to say, ‘the problem of surplus’.

Recently, BJD’s organisational secretary, Pranab Prakash Das in his official X (formerly Twitter) handle revealed that the party has received more than 10,000 applications for party tickets for the 2024 general elections.

Pacifying the disgruntled lot would be a challenging task for the BJD leadership as a lot is at stake for the regional party as the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership is all set to give a tough fight while aiming to dethrone the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD government in Odisha.

BJP has also kept its door open for the dissidents- from both BJD and Congress. Recently, Gopalpur MLA Pradip Panigrahi, who was expelled from BJD, joined the saffron camp.

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Apart from Panigrahi, another prominent BJD leader and former minister Debasis Nayak has also joined the BJP.

On the other hand, it is believed that the BJP may accommodate more dissidents as Congress is still struggling to make its presence felt in the state. Besides, the Congress itself is witnessing infighting which will only add more trouble for the party in the coming days, believe political experts.