ZP chairman polls: Cong, BJP may join hands to keep BJD at bay

Bhubaneswar: If Union minister Jual Oram’s statement on the ensuing Zilla Parishad chairmen election is anything to go by, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can forge alliance with Congress party to form the council and keep the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) at bay.

Figures in Sundergarh, Rayagada and Nabrangpur districts show, none of the parties have absolute majority to form the Zilla Parishad (district council). In Sundergarh, the constituency from where Oram is elected, BJD has won 14 ZP seats, while BJP and Congress have got 13 and five seats, respectively. Independent candidates have won three seats in district. Since the magic number to form the council stands at 18, both BJD and BJP, once bête noire, will try to capture the council by managing support from each other or independents.

“Talks are on with other parties regarding this (formation of council)…We are thinking to go with open policy and of course we will consider swapping of ZP chairman and vice-chairman posts, if other parties approach us,” Oram told news men when asked about the distant possibilities of forming the parishad.

“Everything and anything is possible in politics…Why only in Sundergarh, it may happen throughout the State,” quipped the minister hinting that it may go for an alliance with Congress if conditions favour.

In Nabrangpur district, where the magic number to from the council is 14, combined both, BJP (7) and Congress (8) have 15 ZP seats against BJD’s 11. Going by Oram’s statement, here the BJP-Congress coalition can form the council in the absence of Independent candidates who could have played a vital role for Congress’ council formation ambitions.

And, to keep its footprints alive in the district, the Congress seems to be distantly agreeing with the saffron party’s ‘conditions’, if any.

“We have approached all the political parties to form a non-BJD ZP head in the district. We are hopeful of forming 3-4 ZP councils in the State,” Congress leader and former Nabarangpur MP Pradeep Majhi said.

But in contrast to the picture in above two districts, where Congress has less number, the party, in Rayagada district has the edge with 11 ZP seats while BJD and BJP have got seven and four seats, respectively.

The five districts where no party has secured a clear majority are Gajapati, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Sundargarh and Kandhamal.

In the post-poll scenario, while a buoyed BJP is trying to maintain momentum with its eyes set on the civic body polls next year and general elections in 2019 and the Congress is grappling with the voices of dissent over its poor performance, the BJD has started the process of course correction.