Odisha: New party

Print edition : January 25, 2013

DOTTING the landscape in Odisha these days are innumerable posters with New Year greetings to the people from political leaders of all hues. Not surprising, because Assembly elections are only a year away. Moreover, much has been happening in the State’s politics.

The State recently witnessed the birth of a regional political forum, the Odisha Janmorcha, which was launched by Rajya Sabha Member Pyarimohan Mohapatra, who is Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s key adviser-turned-foe. The new party, which will be registered by March end, claims it will be an alternative to the ruling Biju Janata Dal.

Mohapatra, who was ousted from the BJD in May last year for allegedly organising a coup—an unsuccessful one—against Patnaik, has already organised three massive rallies of the Janmorcha in Bhubaneswar, Bhawanipatna and Baripada.

Throwing an open challenge to the BJD leadership, Mohapatra said that the Janmorcha would assume power in 2014.

Patnaik, who is aiming for a fourth consecutive term as Chief Minister, said the people of the State would vote for the BJD. He said that the chances of the Janmorcha capturing power were remote.

But it is clear that the BJD is worried about the emergence of the Janmorcha. When Mohapatra addressed a Janmorcha rally in Baripada town on December 28, the BJD put up hoardings questioning him on various issues. Patnaik has also announced new populist schemes to keep his party’s vote base intact. One of them is Rs.200 in cash to 37 lakh beneficiaries—the elderly, widows and disabled persons—to purchase winter clothing.

Some regional parties had come up in Odisha after the birth of the BJD in December 2007. Of them, many have vanished from the scene, while others are still struggling to gain people’s acceptance. But the Janmorcha could emerge as a strong threat to the BJD as those attending the former’s rallies are mainly BJD workers.

Prafulla Das