BERHAMPUR: The State Government’s flagship scheme, Peoples Empowerment- Enabling Transparency and Enhancing Accountability in Odisha (PEETHA) has kept ruling BJD a step ahead of its rivals in Ganjam district. With General Elections drawing close, major political parties including Congress and BJP have started programmes to connect with people.
But BJD has been banking on its PEETHA programme, launched in December last year. The State Government’s populist schemes like Aahar and rice at Rs 1 per kg have been instrumental in expanding BJD’s voter base. However, PEETHA is a step forward as it involves the general public and the Government machinery and especially brings in transparency in the distribution of individual and social benefits.
The strengthened BJD position is also evident in large number of leaders from other parties switching allegiance to the ruling party. Around two decades back, Ganjam was considered a fortress of Congress with a sizable chunk of its residents voting in favour of CPI. But, the trend changed with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik assuming power. In the last few years, several top leaders of CPI and Congress have joined BJD.
This has helped the ruling party consolidate its position in the district. But it has its cons as the party is now faced with the typical jostle for prominence within its ranks. The situation is fast turning into a crisis with discontentment swelling among the old guard over new entrants being given plum posts. The differences between old-timers and newcomers have come to fore on several occasions at party events attended by the Chief Minister.
Stiff competition to be seen in close proximity to the BJD supremo has started in the district. The old hands are using everything at their disposal even the police to prevent newcomers from reaching the podium during party programmes attended by Naveen. However, of late, no senior leader is seen on the stage with the Chief Minister.
Political observers feel it is the BJD supremo’s master stroke to keep things on an even keel. They said it is meant to send out a message that the party values those who can win elections. Moreover, the ruling party has several corporations and bodies where the aggrieved leaders can be accommodated.