January 29, 2018

Is Baijayant planning for a new party?

What now looks more likely is that Baijayant Panda may float a regional political party to counter BJD by engineering an alliance with BJP in Odisha following the same formula BJD used to oust Congress from power in the State.

Since his ouster from Biju Janata Dal, everyone in Odisha is speculative on Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda’s next political move, what would be his next move and which party would he opt to land up in. And, if not joining any party, what could be his next course of action? Is he planning for a new party because the current political situation is quite similar to that of the 1997 when the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) emerged by splitting the old Janata Dal?

Given that Panda has praised many reformative moves of the union government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi through his columns in various national newspapers while being critical to the state of affairs of his erstwhile party, the BJD, it’s obvious to guess that he would embrace Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Again, BJP seems to be the only option for Panda in case he desires to join any party because the third major party, i.e. the Congress, is facing the trend of in-terminal decline in the state since it is out of power from the year 2000.

But, having a look at his tweets and statements over the last year, an outspoken Jay Panda many not be taken well by BJP’s regional level players as he would be the immediate threat to the political ambitions of Dharmendra Pradhan, the union minister of petroleum and natural gas, who aspires to become the chief minister of Odisha. Panda may have to face constant obstacles from Pradhan who now controls BJP’s Odisha affairs including selection of the office bearers, distribution of duties to its media management to strongly position him as the only chief ministerial face for the 2019 elections.

Panda may not also like to remain subservient to the young union minister and leave his destiny to the mercy of Pradhan by joining the BJP.

So, what now looks more likely is that Baijayant may float a regional political party to counter BJD by engineering an alliance with BJP in the state of Odisha following the same formula BJD used to oust Congress from power in Odisha.

With discontent and anger growing in general public against the BJD led government over the issue of corruption, bureaucratic highhandedness and apathetic attitude of elected leaders towards ordinary people in addition to regular incidents reflecting compromised safety of women and girls in the state, current political situation in the State stands favourable for a regional party provided it is effectively projected as an alternative to the ruling BJD. In that case, Baijayant can use his family owned channel OTV for that as is still the largest TV news channel in the state with a strong presence across the state on all distribution channels. It’s worth remembering that OTV made important contributions for the rise and growth of BJD over the years to make the party the only one to rule the state for four consecutive terms.

It’s because of his family background, the popular media his family owns, and the image of a dynamic as well as outspoken leader, many other leaders who have faced the same fate as Baijayant has recently in the BJD may join the new party, if Baijayant floats it, because they are also looking for a new platform other than the BJP and Congress.

Despite the fact that the regional leaders of BJP may not like this idea, the common objective of replacing Naveen in the Odisha politics and his friendly relationship with the national leadership would help Baijayant engineer an alliance with BJP for the 2019 election in Odisha.

If it becomes reality, the combination of BJP’s growing popularity in the state, as evident from the bygone panchayat polls, and Baijayant’s media power can result in an unexpected political change in the state.

However, all these are again speculations and time will tell if Baijayant is really working on the math at present to float his new party.

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