Selection of Party candidates is herculean task


With the 2024 General Elections around the corner, several aspiring candidates of the major political parties in Odisha are lobbying hard to secure tickets. Hundreds of party leaders and workers are making a beeline near Naveen Niwas on a daily basis to lobby for BJD tickets. While some of the aspiring candidates are coming with their bio-data, others are showing their organizational prowess by bringing their supporters.

Though BJD is planning to distribute tickets well ahead of others, an increase in the number of aspiring candidates may put the ruling party in trouble. More than 10,000 people have so far applied for Biju Janata Dal (BJD) tickets for the upcoming Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections. Moreover, the number of aspiring candidates is increasing every day. On the pretext of expressing their gratitude to Naveen Patnaik and 5T Chairman VK Pandian, hundreds of aspirants are thronging Naveen Niwas.

Even, BJD MP Ramesh Majhi, Minister Ashok Panda, and party leader Shreemayee Mishra have already visited Naveen Niwas with members of various organisations to showcase their popularity. It all depends on the decision of the party supremo. BJD may announce the names of the candidates well in advance this time. Green signal has been given to around 50 per cent candidates so far. Planning is already underway to change the candidates in many seats. BJD is giving importance to women candidates and preference may be given to them.

BJD might be in trouble due to problem of plenty factor. In the upcoming election, there are many aspirants for each seat. They may switch their allegiance to other parties at the last moment causing big problems for the party.

Meanwhile, the Opposition BJP and Congress have also prepared their strategies to distribute tickets among the party candidates. BJP will announce the name of 100 candidates for Lok Sabha seats very soon and among those two to three candidates will be from Odisha. Party observers have been told to submit a report on the possible candidates for all the Lok Sabha seats in Odisha before March 1. Similarly, they have also been told to submit the list of the probable candidates for all the constituencies on March 2 after conducting core committee and election management meetings.

State observers of BJP will give the list of probable candidates for 21 Lok Sabha seats by March 1. The core committee and election management committee meetings will be held soon and the report will be submitted before March 3.

Odisha Congress has already started the process to announce the names of 70 candidates. A screening committee meeting in this regard was conducted in New Delhi. Emphasis was laid on 21 Lok Sabha seats. Discussion may be held to finalise the candidates for Assembly seats in the second meeting on March 9.

Bharatiya Janata Party has set its sights on increasing its tally and vote share in the 2024 assembly as well as Lok Sabha polls. The party has set in motion an electoral plan that includes organisational changes and activities to take on the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), in what it claims will be a straight-out electoral contest.

There is a strong narrative in Odisha that the BJD is a friendly party to the BJP. BJD supported the Union government in Parliament on a host of issues, including some contentious bills such as outlawing triple talaq and abrogating Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. Recently, BJD also sacrificed its Rajya Sabha seat in favour of BJP candidate. However, BJP high command has conveyed the message that there is no friendly fight between the two parties to the cadre that has been asked to pull its weight for the upcoming elections in 2024, when the state will pick a new assembly as well as vote for the general elections.

With an eye on beneficiaries of welfare schemes and women, a category of voters who have played a pivotal role in the party’s success in various states including Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has stepped up efforts to claim credit for schemes that it says are funded by the Union government.

BJP is planning to make the voters convinced on the PM Garib Anna Yojana, where rice is being supplied by Govt. of India, free of cost through PDS outlets. Till now, BJD was taking credit for it. Similarly, attempts are being made to popularise the central government’s contribution for construction of houses under the PM Awas Yojna, which was being “hijacked” by the BJD government. The party will focus on women and socially and economically backward communities by ensuring the implementation of targeted schemes sponsored by the Centre.

While the BJP won eight Lok Sabha seats out of 21 and 23 seats in the 147-member assembly, party leaders blamed the BJD for misleading the saffron outfit into believing that an alliance was in the works. The BJD gave an impression and successfully established a narrative in 2019 that it has secret alliance with the BJP high command. Therefore, Odisha Congress performed a mock marriage of BJD-BJP to express their anguish that both the parties are one and same, with a hope to attract support in its favour. This narrative is believed to be true, as the BJP top leaders have so far not criticized the ruling BJD while addressing public meetings.

BJD is in power continuously for last 24 years under the leadership of Naveen Patnaik, who has implemented many remarkable schemes and has gained popular support of the voters. It has hundreds of tailormade schemes for the youth, women, students, SHGs, farmers and all sections of the voters. Factor of anti-incumbency cannot be overruled. While the huge popularity of PM Modi will be the super asset for BJP, the after effect of Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra may help Congress in Odisha. It may not be surprising, if the rebel candidates play havoc for any party during the ensuing general election.