Pyari unveils strategy for RS polls

By:Soumyajit Pattnaik

Can the BJD and the Opposition in Odisha forge consensus to send a non-political icon from the world of art or literature to Rajya Sabha? As Independents will determine the fate of the third candidate, it’s no secret that unethical practices will rule the roost if parties enter into a no-holds-barred contest to fill the third vacancy.

The BJD has devised a calibrated approach this time as the horse-trading charges sullied its image in 2010 RS polls. In a preemptive move to ward off any future criticism, senior BJD leader Pyari Mohan Mohapatra has offered an olive branch to the Opposition to back an eminent non-political personality.

Unveiling the party’s Rajya Sabha strategy, Pyari made three important points. First, BJD is willing to support a non-controversial icon if the Congress and BJP will follow suit. Second, BJD will “be forced to nominate a party candidate” if the BJP and Congress will “collude again”. Third, Pyari also said the BJD would not be a mute spectator if the Congress and BJP would join hands to back any controversial candidate. In a nutshell, Pyari has stated that either both sides will observe the principles and ethical practices or BJD should not be blamed alone for the murky political manoeuvrings that lie ahead.

Pyari is obviously playing to the gallery as his real intention is to score few brownie-points vis-à-vis the Congress and the BJP. A contest appears inevitable with businessman Tara Ranjan Patnaik keen to avenge his defeat in 2010 polls and the challenge before BJD is how to manage a win without besmirching its public image. Already, horse-trading charges have tarred the image of the BJD in the aftermath of an audiotape revelation in 2011. The case, which allegedly involves Pushpendra Singhdeo and Atanu Sabyasachi, is currently under police investigation. If the BJD does not tread cautiously in the ensuing polls, it may have to pay a price later. The party must be on cloud nine especially after the panchayat polls, but shadowy dealings can jolt public confidence in the BJD.