Follow Us:

BJD’s double whammy

Editorial | New Delhi |

The Biju Janata Dal is going through a rough patch; the applecart has been rocked after 17 years at the helm in Odisha. It has been one jolt too many since February when the Bharatiya Janata Party swept the panchayat elections in a predominantly rural and poverty-stricken state. The party's strength in the quangos has risen from 30-odd seats in 2012 to 294 seats this year.  In psephological terms, there has been an unnerving drop in the BJD's percentage of votes, suggestive of a severe erosion in what had once seemed to be its almost invincible support base.

There is little doubt that the ruling party is as demoralised as it is disoriented. Over the past few days, the internal turmoil has been still more aggravated with the four-term MP, Baijayant Panda, shrilling for "introspection by the party" with the focus on its dismal performance in the panchayat elections, on corruption, and on bureaucratic dominance. It is a quirky irony of Odisha politics that though the MP from Kendrapara has been a member of the Lok Sabha for 20 years, he has been marginalised within the organisation for the past four years.

Nonetheless, the ranting at the party leadership has caused a flutter in the BJD roost. And not least  because of his proximity to some BJP leaders in Delhi. In the political corridors of Bhubaneswar, fears that a section of the ruling party might switch over to the BJP in due course of time are not wholly unfounded.  Indeed, Tathagata Satpathy, the BJD's Chief Whip in the Lok Sabha, is reported to have expressed fears that the BJP might engineer a split in the BJD.

The BJD's rise and growth since the year 2000 was embedded in its anti-Congress regional plank. Now that the Congress is decimated, the BJP would appear to have taken its space and with a degree of aggressiveness that has bamboozled the state's ruling party.

In the net, the BJD has been floundering in search of its moorings and particularly in the context of the BJP's national executive 
meeting, scheduled to be held in Odisha on 15 and 16 April… markedly coinciding with naba barsha.

Significant must be the choice of the venue ~ two months after the saffronite sweep in the local elections. However, it is early days to speculate whether the party has fixed its sights on the next Assembly elections.

Suffice it to register that Mr Panda has played into the hands of the BJP. By baring his angst in the public domain,  Panda has made the  waters murkier.

And it may not be easy for the Biju Janata Dal to shore up its image before the Assembly elections, let alone play a role in the national perspective in league with other regional party leaders.