Himansu Shekhar Rout

As elections are drawing closer, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems to be worried over disgruntled workers and leaders. To keep the flock together and ensure support for its candidates, the party is allegedly making its workers, leaders and even common people take oaths at religious places. Such incidents have gone viral on social media.  

To ward off sabotage to its vote bank, the ruling party has allegedly made arrangements to extract a vow from all leaders and workers on the death anniversary of late Chief Minister Biju Patnaik.

In a purported video from Nayagarh that went viral, it was seen that at Dutikeswar Temple in Odagan, Zilla Parishad president, Subash Kanhar, made some sarpanches and samiti members take vows that they would vote for BJD's MLA nominee Arun Sahoo. A lecturer was present on the occasion, it was alleged. 

Another such incident was reported from the Rangeilunda area of the Goplapur Assembly constituency. BJD’s block unit president of Rangeilunda, Ajit Das was seen at Bhaliagad Thakurani temple administering a religious vow to some BJD workers and common people to vote for the BJD in the elections.  

It is said that such religious oaths are aimed at preventing the possible exodus of the disgruntled workers from the party. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken up this issue with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) triggering a political slugfest.
Nayagarh Zilla Parishad president, Debasish Patnaik said, "People are inspired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his development agenda. They are coming voluntarily to commit themselves to development. This is a baseless allegation.”  

BJP leader from Nayagarh, Basant Patnaik said, "Such incidents of administering religious oaths to people show that the BJD lacks trust in its leaders and workers. They will not be successful in this attempt.” 

Congress leader Ranjit Das said, "Administering oath to people on religious lines is a violation of the poll model code of conduct. Action should be taken suo motu against these leaders. Why the ECI is not taking action?”

Meanwhile, the BJD has issued a directive for a mass oath-taking drive to be undertaken by party leaders and workers on the occasion of the death anniversary of legendary leader Biju Patnaik. The BJD leaders and workers will reportedly take a vow to abide by party discipline and work with a dedicated attitude to shape ‘Nabin Odisha.’

Also Read | Odisha Elections 2024: Villagers corner BJD candidates with questions on basic issues

Political observers say that the BJD is gripped by acute infighting and wants to alleviate it by administering oaths to workers.

BJD leader PrasantaMuduli explained that BJD workers take oath to work for the party with dedication. “This has been happening over the years. It will happen tomorrow. The party has issued a directive in this regard. No doubt, the BJD will do well in the upcoming polls.” 

Senior journalist Sandeep Mishra observed, "The party is trying to induce a sense of unity among party workers as indiscipline and dissidence has grown in the party. Ahead of elections, leaders are spewing venom against the party. The party is playing the Biju Patnaik card."

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