Will ‘Ray’ of hope make ‘Jual’ dazzle in Sundergarh LS?

Political observers feel BJD has now suddenly woken up to a dusty battle not only in the Rourkela Assembly Constituency but also in the Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency

Bhubaneswar: Political trade winds in Rourkela turned tailwind for the BJP, when veteran leader and former steel city BJP MLA Dilip Ray fanned out the winds of grace for the BJP. Ray quit the BJP last December accusing it of letting down hopes of the steel city.

In a tweet Thursday night, the veteran leader said “After a prolonged phase of disappointment, the Status Report and assurance by PMO India regarding Brahmani Bridge & IGH have come as a ray of hope that will, to much extent dispel the cloud of uncertainty. Convey my deep regards to Modiji.”

The clearing up of the air by Ray triggered a storm of speculation in Odisha’s political ocean on whether  Ray was sailing towards BJP in the crucial second phase elections. Speculations apart, the Ray shocker seems to have jolted the BJD strategists, who were hoping to sail to the shore with the ‘unrest winds’ in the BJP camp.

Political observers feel BJD has now suddenly woken up to a dusty battle not only in the Rourkela Assembly Constituency but also in the Sundergarh Lok Sabha constituency.

How providential will Dilip Ray’s statement prove for BJP? BJP heavyweight and Union Tribal Minister Jual Oram is fighting the 2019 battle from Sundergarh, and the party doesn’t want to squander a winning seat to opposition solely owing to tempest that had hit the party last December.

Sample the electoral arithmetic.  In 2014 LS elections, Jual trumped BJD’s Dilip Tirkey by a slender margin of around 18,800. And significantly, Jual’s winning lead in Birmitrapur and Rourkela saw him carry through the day then. Among the seven constituencies, Jual had the biggest lead of over 21, 849 in Rourkela and Dilip Ray’s winning margin in the steel city was around 11,000.  In the 2009 LS, Jual Oram had a winning lead of 14, 643 votes. But in the assembly segment, BJP lost to BJD. These facts show the electoral significance of Dilip Ray in the BJP’s scheme of things in Sundergarh LS.

Ground reports suggest that BJP has consolidated its position in Birmitrapur in 2019 with Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY) and Ujjwala Yojana, though BJD is also trying to make inroads with the SHG scheme. BJP hopes to do well in Sundergarh Assembly constituency with former BJD leader and a strong organiser Kusum Tete. The party seems to have improved its position in Talsara. But the Dilip Ray fallout has clouded its prospects in Rourkela. And BJP strategists have been working overtime to assuage the hurt sentiments of Ray. Last evening’s tweet by Ray draws the full circle for BJP in Rourkela, feel observers.

Political observers, however, are surprised over BJD strategy to gain by fishing only in troubled waters rather than netting in the fishes.