BJD leaders continue to remain muted after humiliating loss of power to BJP


Bhubaneswar, July 5: Silence rules the roost in Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Leaders of the regional party that ruled the state for an unstinted 24 years are maintaining a discreet silence since they lost power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on June 4. So far, neither the BJD president Naveen Patnaik nor any other leaders of his party have come out with any statement on how they want to rebuild the sagging organisation.

The BJD’s crushing defeat in both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls has left it in a state of helplessness. The regional party which got 12 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 drew nil this time while its strength in Odisha Legislative Assembly dropped to 51 from 115 seats.

Though many senior BJD leaders initially blamed the former chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s “over-reliance” V Karthikeyan Pandian, a Tamil Nadu-born bureaucrat-turned politician, to run the party and the government, — they withdrew to their cocoon after Naveen himself came out to defend Pandian. The former CM not only defended Pandian, but also went on to heap profuse praises on him saying he (Pandian) had served the government and the BJD with all “selflessness” and “integrity.”

While some senior leaders like Sashi Bhusan Behera and Nrusingha Sahoo had overtly shared their displeasure over assigning the party’s campaign responsibility to Pandian, sources in the party said that in the very first meeting held after the poll debacle at Naveen Patnaik’s residence, many other leaders had also pointed fingers at the retired bureaucrat’s role in the poll debacle.

“The BJD had promised that it would hold a review meeting to assess the reasons of poll debacle. Surprisingly, it has not yet done any exercise though more than a month has passed since the poll results were out on June 4. It reflects that the leaders as well as the party president are reluctant to discuss the reasons of the defeat at this moment as it may lead to opening of a can of worms,” said political analyst Prasanna Mohanty.

Mohanty added that systematic sidelining of senior leaders, mega mining scams, chit fund scams, corruption in government offices and nepotism gave birth to a strong sense of anti-incumbency against the BJD government headed by Naveen Patnaik.

“As it seems, the BJD is now strategically cooling its heels and waiting for some major issues to crop up so that it can lapped up them to put the government in trouble. However, the BJD must not forget that the new government led by a tribal chief minister — Mohan Charan Majhi — have started making waves for taking a slew of reformative measures to set right the governance system and announced some pro-poor initiatives,” added the analyst.

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