Pradeep Pattanayak

With the Panchayat elections in Odisha inching closer, political parties have started falling back on the same old tricks of using ‘Bhagwat Gita’ or ‘Mahaparasad’ to stop defections and end dissidence. 

At a ‘Mishrana Parva’ organized recently at the Biju Yuva Janata Dal office in Bhubaneswar, BJP leader Jharana Barik who is the chairman of Chilika Block, Zilla Parishad member Damayanti Basti, along with other leaders and workers joined the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). They were taken into the party fold in the presence of BJD organization secretary Pranab Prakash Dash and MLA Pramila Mallick. 
But the important fact is that all the turncoats were administered oath in the name of God by district president Bibhuti Balabantaray. 

On the other hand, Tirttol MLA Bijay Shankar Das, Jagatsinghpur district Biju Yuva Janata Dal secretary Biswajit Dash have left the party after being administered similar oaths.  
“The MLA asked us to take oath with hands on the Bhagwat Gita to lend support whosoever the party chooses as its candidate,” said Biswajit Dash. 

In spite of all attempts, the parties are still struggling to put an end to dissidence and infighting. The recent case of group clash reported from Mundamurai Panchayat under Dharakote block in Ganjam district can be taken as an example. As many as three persons from both the sides were injured in the clashes. 

“When I went to file my nominations for Samiti member, ten ruffians entered the Block office and tore down my papers. All that happened in the presence of police,” alleged Manini Patra, a Samiti member aspirant.

Earlier, the BJD’s two rival fractions had confronted each other over the selection of Sarpanch candidate for Badaambila Panchayat i  Aul Block of Kendrapara district. The disagreement started after party-backed Mahasweta Pradhan’s name was announced as the Sarpanch candidate. 

In Karanjia of Mayurbhanj district, BJD infighting is brewing. Earlier, the supporters of Karanjia MLA Basanti Hembram had attacked the supporters of Thakurmunda block chairman Pashant Kumar Behera. A case was then registered at the police station.  

However, BJD MLA Pramila Mallick claimed, “There is no infighting in our party.”