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Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: This is election time, the season of defections. Political loyalties become conveniently fickle at this time and expediency invariably gets precedence over principles. What else can explain former minister, Damodar Rout, a lifelong critic of BJP, entering the poll fray on the lotus symbol. This is going to be his last hurrah or sigh in the elections depending on the outcome of the contest.

The former minister, who had the reputation of being loose cannon in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), may not agree with BJP’s core ideology but both have a common enemy—chief minister, Naveen Patnaik. This common animus has become a fig leaf for Rout’s political somersault. If he emerges a winner in the poll battle all that went behind his candidature on a saffron ticket will be forgotten and he will be hailed as a champion. Such is the character of modern politics and so short is political memory.

There are many such examples in this election which has seen a spate of resignations and defections from major parties, most notably the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) which has denied tickets to a large number of MPs and MLAs. Those denied tickets have found it convenient to blame the chief minister and switch loyalties. Take the case of Nabarangpur MP, Balabhadra Majhi who was quick to jump onto the saffron bandwagon when he was replaced with a much younger, Ramesh Majhi. Ditto for Kandhmal MP, Pratyusha Rajeshwari Singh, who came up with a litany of complaints against BJD leaders like former minister, Arun Sahu soon after being told that she was not being re-nominated from Kandhmal.

If this is not politics of convenience what else is? Talking of principles, Congress in Odisha had declared on the poll eve that it would not promote dynastic politics under any circumstances and would not allow more than one member from a family to contest. The stand changed soon after the party leadership got into the thick of negotiations for tickets and realized that this was going to spark trouble. The leadership began singing the winnability tune and now we have a scenario where party veteran and leader of opposition, Narasingha Mishra is contesting from Bolangir Assembly seat while his son, Samarendra would be trying his luck from Bolangir Lok Sabha seat on Congress ticket.

Interestingly, while Narasingha finds himself pitted against Bolangir royal scion, Arkesh Singh Deo, the youngest son of former Rajya Sabha member, AU Singh Deo, Samarendra will be taking on Arkesh’s elder brother, Kalikesh who is fighting to retain the Bolangir Lok Sabha seat. Within the Bolangir royal family there is also the husband-wife pair of KV Singh Deo and Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo contesting these elections on the BJP ticket.

So dynastic politics is here to stay and is it being promoted by almost all the parties depending on their needs. It is particularly foolish to rail against it at the time of elections when principles take a back seat and expediency rules the roost.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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