BJD, BJP and Congress- three major parties of the state are gearing up for the urban local bodies (ULBs) polls to be held on March 24. While the ruling party stands firm and dares to clinch the seats, just as it did in the panchayat polls, the oppositions are leaving no stone unturned to contest their candidates to the posts of mayors in the municipal corporations of the municipalities and NACs that will be held directly for the first-ever time.
For any man, political or apolitical, in Odisha, the scintillating performance of the ruling party, Biju Janta Dal (BJD) in the recently concluded rural elections garnered undivided attention. Surpassing its own past record in 2017, the BJD clinched a landslide victory yet again, this time, with a margin that shushed the big mouths of the opposition. The 2022 panchayat polls verdict was deemed important for two major reasons, one to determine whether the Patnaik magic is still intact even after 22 years of incumbency and second, if the BJP or the Congress clan had secured any place in the hearts and minds of the Odia people.
Among the many reasons that led to the stellar performance of the BJD and decimation of the Congress and the BJP was the presence (as well as absence) of a strong party figure. At the time when BJP’s heavy-weight faces like Central Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi should have been campaigning massively for votes, they were nowhere to be seen in the frame. As greener as it could get, the BJD tribe saw the involvement of every party member, be it an MP or a party leader, or the party chief himself, whose campaigning started way back for the past 4-5 months.
Let bygones be bygones. If the current trend in urban politics is to be mapped, the polls may pose a threat to the BJD, for the BJP and Congress have a stronger hold in the urban camps. Rubbing salt into the wounds, a lot of internal feuds surfaced during the panchayat elections among the BJD leaders which might take time to settle. What is feared is that the smoke left from that fire may very well crumble the entire empire, now.
Ironically, however, neither the BJP nor the Congress is at the mercy of internal factionalism that has widened after the controversial loss in the panchayat polls. With the municipal elections knocking on the door, it is high time that parties unite to stand as a single entity and not as divided institutions if they wish to have a fair play on the ground. In addition, the recognition for the BJD government by the PM and other senior BJP Ministers likewise conveyed an off-base message for the party workers on the ground.
The exceptional outcome of the BJD, which has transformed into a political decision winning machine, is independently liable for the rise of Patnaik, its incomparable chief and five-time Chief Minister of the state, as one of the most impressive provincial satraps of the country. In its long and checkered political history, Odisha has seen the ascent and fall of a few political groups yet none can measure up to BJD as far as progress or life span. The regional party owes a lot of its prosperity to the sharp political keenness of Patnaik, who regardless of making a somewhat reluctant passage into the governmental corridor in 1997 upon his father’s demise rushed to get familiar with everything of the exchange. Urbane and calm, he could scarcely speak Odia toward the start of his vocation however he more than compensated for this lack through his genuineness which engaged the electors who chose him for the Lok Sabha from Aska in 1997 in a by-poll.