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As double engine takes backseat in Odisha, BJP is pitted against 'firmly rooted' BJD

By Sudhansu R Das 

BJP has got 25 years to build its party base in Odisha. After 25 years, it felt helpless and insecure to fight elections on its own strength. The party was almost crazy to have an alliance with the ruling BJD in Odisha.  Looking for alliance at the time of election shows that the party has not groomed its grassroots level workers into potential leaders.  The state BJP leaders woke up and convinced the Central leaders that they are capable of going solo; the alliance was stillborn. The question is can BJP defeat BJD which is firmly rooted in Odisha after launching piles of populist programs in the state.  
Naveen Pattanaik’s government has built many magnificent infrastructures in the state which no other party can imagine. Good roads, flyovers, bridges and stadiums etc add feathers to their achievement though there is over dose of infrastructures which has surpassed the actual demand and has increased the debt burden on the state.  On the other hand, the state BJP is backed by Prime Minister’s Modi’s charisma, its powerful organisation network, social media, financial backup and dedicated workers. 
The fight between BJD and BJP in Odisha will be a spectacle to watch. The Congress which was waiting for the alliance to happen suddenly finds itself on the back foot; the BJP-BJD alliance would have immensely benefited the Congress party. The Congress party in fact was waiting and was not having a definite plan to improve its prospect in Odisha; internal fighting dogged their fortunes.
The workers and candidates of both the BJP and BJD celebrate the failure of the alliance and are preparing their election game plan with much enthusiasm.  The state BJP leadership lacks grass root level knowledge on various issues which will give an advantage to BJD.  A few leaders like the former IAS officer cum BJP MP, Aparajita Sadangi have done lots of surveys on the grassroots level issues concerning the state. She may spearhead the BJP campaign in the state. She is a tough fighter and a charismatic leader. 
BJP needs strong leaders to counter the growing influence of the Tamilian leader, VK Pandian, the former IAS officer who was inducted in BJD a few months back. Pandian is smart and he has distributed hundreds of state government development schemes among the people. But he can’t speak Odia well which is a clear disadvantage for him. Pandian has not understood the natural sector economy of Odisha,  its topography and climate.   
He poured more concrete and steel in the natural environment which has increased the summer heat in the state; the summer months continue for more than eight months and give pain and distress to people of Odisha. The state needs dense forest on its coast and more forest cover in the tribal districts to escape the hot climate and frequent cyclones. God has given the natural infrastructure and nature based economy to the state for the survival of the people.  It needs knowledge, experience and skills to tap the natural sector. 
Congress which was waiting for the alliance to happen suddenly finds itself on the back foot
People of Odisha love Naveen Pattanaik because he is Odia and is the son of the famous Biju Pattanaik. Though Naveen can’t speak Odia clearly, his development vision, clarity of thought and his simplicity make him a popular leader.  The election fight in Odisha will be between  the two giant leaders of Indian politics: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the tallest CM of India, Naveen Pattanaik.  Both are popular and charismatic; it will be a titanic clash between the two supremos.  
Here Prime Minister Modi will have the election burden of the entire country and he will have the constraints of coming to Odisha in order to deliver his election speeches, polished with oratorial excellence. Though Naveen Pattanaik’s body does not permit him to take extensive tours, his will is very strong to appear before the voters for a brief time. A few simple words with clear messages from him spell magic in Odisha.  He is a great communicator like his father Biju Pattanaik.
The workers of BJD and BJP heavily depend on Naveen’s charisma and Modi’s magic respectively; the double engine has gone to the backseat.  No other leader in BJD and BJP has the capacity to attract 2000 people to their meeting place. Being supremo has its own disadvantage also; it does not allow the growth of fire brand leaders in the country. No big tree grows under the shade of the banyan tree.   
Not a single Odia leader has grown into big stature in the last 25 years in Odisha. Not a single student leader in Odisha has shined in the last three decades; the student leaders have not taken interest in politics after the emergency which is not good for democracy. Despite the uncertainties of the election outcome the people of Odisha wait for the ensuing Titanic clash.  



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