Alarm bells started ringing in the ruling Biju Janata Dal after the BJP’s stunning show in the last month panchayat elections in the coastal state. The BJP’s forthcoming conclave in Bhubaneswar has now set the cats among the pigeons in Odisha.
“BJP hard at work to divide @bjd_odisha in Parliament, maybe even in assembly. They want AIADMK type split,” BJD’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Tathagata Satpathy, wrote on Twitter. “They want to take away @bjd_odisha’s party name & symbol. Rumors afloat that only one MP will swing this deal for them. Ha!”
Satpathy did not name any BJD MP, but he was pointing at a fellow Lok Sabha MP, who represents a coastal seat and is considered close to a section of the BJP leadership. The suave BJD MP in question was a close aide of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, but has fallen out with him.
The BJD leadership, source said, was anxious about BJP’s plan for Odisha, which is under Patnaik’s rule since 2000. The chief minister is reportedly not in the pink of his health and hasn’t put any succession plan in place.
BJP is hopeful to capitalize on the gains made in panchayat elections and expects Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity will help blow a wind of change in Odisha in the next elections in 2019. Assembly and the national elections are held simultaneously in Odisha.
But, BJP’s adventurism in Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and some other states, wherein leaders from rival parties defected to the saffron party, has the BJD jittery. With Patnaik’s charm fading, BJD managers fear that BJP will try to fish in troubled waters to destabilize the government.
“If split happens, no matter how small, BJP will try for early elections in Orissa with Raj, Guj, MP. Will EC play along?” Satpathy wrote on Twitter. “BJP National Convention scheduled on 15-16 April in Orissa. PM to attend. Intention to put pressure to make state govt defunct”.