Is BJP repeating Congress’ mistakes in Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: The debate and dilemma between no contest and an open contest somehow seems to have lost ground since the moment Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a huge gathering in Baripada on January 5, launched scathing attacks on the Congress but was calculative in speaking anything against the ruling-BJD.

While Congress, right from the beginning, has been of the opinion that there’s a secret alliance between the BJP and BJD, the debate was reignited when former Parliamentarian Jay Panda too opined that there is an unspoken understanding between the BJP and the BJD and the saffron has now lost the nerve to fight in Odisha. While BJD continues to reiterate its policy of equidistance, BJP has refuted such allegations.

Recently during an interview, Jay Panda pointed out that the BJP is making the same mistake in Odisha that the Congress once made, by not going hard against the ruling party. “What has happened is the BJP has grown into being the second largest party in Odisha and it has edged out the Congress. But there are some indications now that the BJP is making the same mistake in Odisha that the Congress made. One of Naveen Patnaik’s greatest successes has been to convince both BJP and Congress to play them off against each other, to convince them not to really take on the BJD because the other national party would grow.”

Though different parties are making different poll strategies for the upcoming elections, many political pundits and senior journalists have agreed to Panda’s view.

“Naveen Patnaik wants security while the Centre needs support. So, in some way the priorities are getting compromised. The Mission 120 of the BJP has also gone off the track. Amidst all this chaos, Naveen Patnaik has been successful in creating a healthy win-win situation for his party,” said Prasanna Mohanty, senior journalist.

While addressing a rally in Baripada, Odisha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a dig at the Congress, but went soft on the ruling-BJD.  The defeat in the recently-concluded assembly elections in the Hindi-heartland could be one of the reasons why Bharatiya Janata Party is not putting its foot forward.

Moreover, the Odisha Congress said that BJD has many a times extended support to the BJP either directly or indirectly to strengthen ties with the old ally. Be it the support to NDA during Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections or the tardy progress of CBI probe in the chit fund scam, there is definitely an understanding between the two.

Also with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik making it clear that his party will not be a part of the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), the Congress has now decided to use it as a weapon to prove its point.

OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik said, “There has always been an alliance between the BJP and BJD. The people of Odisha now know that the fight in Odisha is between Congress on one side and BJP-BJD on the other end.”

However, refuting the allegations, Union Minister and senior BJP leader Jual Oram said, “We are fighting to form a government. But, is it necessary to always target the government? BJP’s Mission 120 is definitely on the cards.”

On the other hand, BJD Spokesperson Sameer Dash said, “BJD will continue maintaining its policy of equidistance. We have not extended support to the BJP-led Central government unless it is for the interest of the people. Congress is just getting desperate and nothing else.”