Himansu Shekhar Rout

Tagged as the bastion of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Ganjam is the home turf of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. But of late, the way the political landscape in most parts of this southern district has changed and is keeping on changing, it seems the ruling party is losing base from under its feet. 

In most Assembly segments, the organizational units of the ruling party are ridden with virulent factionalism and frontline leaders and workers are reportedly disillusioned with local leadership. As a result, the exodus of influential leaders from the party has started. Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahi, after being expelled from the party on grounds of anti-people activities, was the first to join the BJP.

On Sunday, another powerful leader of Digapahandi area like Bipin Pradhan joined the saffron camp. 

However, the president of the Ganjam BJD is unfazed by Pradhan’s crossover to the BJP.

Given such a situation, some political observers wondered if the fort of the ruling party is disintegrating. 

As per reports, Bipin’s clout in Digapahnadi came to the fore when he had challenged the nominee backed by later minister Suryanarayan Patro’s son Biplab Patro during the by-election to the post of block chairperson. The candidate fielded by Bipin came out victorious, but the BJD later dismissed him from the party.  

After his show of political clout, he is still aspiring for a BJD ticket. In a video, Bipin was seen telling his workers to opt for the BJP if a BJD ticket is not given to him this time. 
Pradhan said, “Inspired by the ideals and works of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have joined the BJP. We will work as per the instructions from the central,  state and district leadership.”    

Similarly, groupism growing acute in other assembly segments like Khllikote, Polasara, Chhatrapur and Aska where discontent among frontline leaders and workers against the legislators is bordering on explosion. 

Also Read | Woman leader Sanjukta Mahala urges Ganjam women to vote against Polasara MLA

On February 29, hundreds of party workers trooped to Naveen Niwas and clamoured for removing MLA Suryamani Baidya from the party. They submitted memoranda to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Minister Usha Devi in this regard.   

In Polasara, some groups of BJD workers have started ganging up against legislator Srikant Sahu, who has been mired in a controversy after a woman leader of his party accused him of physically and sexually harassing her. Since the unsavoury controversy broke out, the legislator’s clout is reportedly on the decline.    

Taking advantage of this messy situation, Dhukapada sarpanch Arati Devi has started visiting villages and building rapport with people and seeking their support for herself. 

Simanchal Behera, a BJD worker of Khllikote, said, “The MLA sided with land, liquor and sand mafia after she was voted to power. We will never support Suryamani Baidya. Naveen babu should give an alternative candidate this time.” 

BJD's Ganjam district unit president Dr Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik said, “There is no groupism in the party anywhere in the district. Those who have deserted the party will make no difference to the poll performance of the party.”

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