Results of the Bijepur by-poll would impact the next general elections. BJP is making all out efforts to win the seat. BJP leaders argue that Congress being a spent force in the state it would be a battle between BJD and BJP and things may swing in favour of the latter given the growing popularity of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. BJD leaders, however, described BJP’s optimism as premature.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is a master of diplomacy Odisha chief minister, Naveen Patnaik is no less. Like Modi he knows the art of playing it safe and keeping happy the people he wants to humour.
It is significant to note that soon after Modi re-shuffled his ministry elevating some ministers and inducting some new faces chief minister, Naveen Patnaik tweeted “Congratulations to all ministers on swearing in. My best wishes & looking forward to support & cooperation for #Odisha.”
While BJP leaders in the state were going gaga over the promotion of petroleum and natural gas minister, Dharmendra Pradhan to the cabinet rank with additional charge of skill development Patnaik cleverly chose to be general instead of being selective. In the process he also emerged more graceful than others.
At the same time he also made it known that he was willing to cooperate with the Centre as long as it lends a helping hand to Odisha. Thus, like a clever politician he has made a statement that reflects the spirit of cooperative federalism but it also has an underlying message – that it has to be a quid pro quo with the Centre. The Modi regime cannot expect Patnaik to stand with it on important bilateral issues unless there is a quid pro quo involved. Odisha must gain equally in the bargain.
Conveyed ahead of the Bijepur assembly by-poll being seen as an acid test for major parties before the finals in 2019 this is an important message. It has implications for the BJP which, it is expected would be the main rival of BJD not only in 2019 but also in Bijepur given the web of internecine struggle that the Congress finds itself caught in.
As it is major parties have begun preparations for the Bijepur by-poll in the right earnest. The constituency, about 450 kms from Bhubaneswar, is part of western Odisha’s Bargarh district and was represented by Congress’s Subal Sahu for three consecutive terms. The bye-election has been necessitated by his premature death.
Even though retaining the seat would be a matter of prestige for the Congress the faction-ridden seems less than likely to do so. The ruling BJD which lost the seat narrowly with its candidate, present Rajya Sabha member, Prasanna Acharya, coming a close second in 2014, fancies its chances. The party leaders, however, admit that it is going to be a keen battle. “It will be no cakewalk but we think we are far ahead of others given the good work done by our government,” said a BJD leader.
Aware of the sympathy factor in favour of Sahu’s family all the parties are trying to woo his sons who happen to be political greenhorns. “If Sahu’s family remains with the Congress and fights on the Congress ticket, the election will be a tough fight between the Congress and BJD. The Congress has the organizational network. Besides the sympathy factor will be a bonus for the party,” surmised a BJD leader.
However, party leaders think that if Sahu’s family joins BJD it will be a cakewalk for the party. There is also a lot of speculation over who would be the party’s candidate in Bijepur as the chances of Acharya contesting are being ruled out. Though several leaders are likely to stake their claim for the party ticket Sambit Acharya, son of former BJD Minister Ananada Acharya is said to be the front runner.
Aware that results of the by-poll would impact the next general elections the BJP is also making all out efforts to win the seat. Party leaders argue that Congress being a spent force in the state it would be a battle between BJD and BJP and things may swing in favour of the latter given the growing popularity of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. BJD leaders, however, described BJP’s optimism as premature.