ONI Bureau: The political as well as the media circle is abuzz with talks of a new political party taking shape in Odisha with loyalists of late Biju Patnaik, who are out of BJD today, joining hands. Former Lok Sabha MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is leading the pack, while senior leaders Bijoy Mohapatra, Dilip Ray, Dr. Damodar Rout are said to be part of the new initiative.
Other leaders who may join the new political outfit to checkmate BJD and Naveen Patnaik, who has been enjoying uninterrupted rule for over 18 years, include Dilip Ray, Jayaram Pangi, Braja Kishore Tripathy, Panchanan Kanungo and Prafulla Ghadei.
Although there were talks of Baijayant Panda joining the BJP, but now it’s believed that the saffron party is keen on experimenting its 1997 theory when it convinced Naveen Patnaik to go for a new regional party instead of joining the BJP. And, rest became history. The BJP central leadership understands that only a regional party can be instrumental in dethroning Naveen Patnaik and BJD, as none of the party’s leaders, including Dharmendra Pradhan don’t have the charisma to challenge him.
In Odisha, Biju legacy played a key role and helped Naveen strengthen his position every passing day. Naveen has managed to strike an emotional chord with the people invoking Biju Babu’s “dreams”. The BJP, which played a key role in Naveen’s rise in the late 1990s, now wants to repeat the same strategy albeit without any direct involvement in the new outfit.
Leaders like Dr. Damodar Rout, Bijoy Mohapatra, Baijayant Panda and Dilip Ray were very close to Biju Patnaik and his ideology. As all of them are out of the BJD today, they now plan to revive the Biju legacy and challenge Naveen Patnaik in his own game. A new party such as ‘Biju Odisha Dal’ or ‘Biju Bichar Manch’ could be born soon, it is believed. They might focus on 50-60 seats to cause maximum damage to BJD.
Although CM Naveen Patnaik and BJD leaders shrugged off this new development, saying it won’t have any impact on party’s prospects in the elections, they are definitely bracing for a big challenge. If Baijayant Panda, Bijoy Mohapatra and Dilip Ray get united to challenge the BJD, it won’t be a smooth ride for the party, which is already facing many challenges including onslaught from BJP, rise of Odisha Congress and infighting within its rank and file.
Interesting times ahead in Odisha politics indeed! Let’s see how things are unfolded over the next few weeks.