2018 witnessed high voltage politics, ugly spats between politicians, ups and downs for political parties. Announcements and promises laced with populism went to new highs keeping 2019 polls in view. Bijay Chaki takes a look at some important events
1. BJD makes strong statement with Bijepur by-poll
If 2017 was all about BJP’s surge in the State following its performance in panchayat elections, 2018 has belonged wholly to the BJD. Starting from the resounding victory in the Bijepur by-poll, there has been no stopping BJD which has swept every election at every level this year.
2. Niranjan Patnaik appointed OPCC chief
Congress veteran Niranjan Patnaik assumed charge as the president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) for the second time. His appointment generated great enthusiasm in the Congress after the party’s humiliation in the panchayat polls last year.
3. Baijayant Panda resigns from BJD
Putting an end to the long-dragging fallout with party leadership, Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda finally resigned from BJD on May 28. He had been suspended from primary membership for alleged anti-party activities in January.
4. Bijay Mohapatra, Dilip Ray resign from BJP
The resignation of senior leaders and BJP national executive members Bijay Mohapatra and Dilip Ray was a huge setback to the State BJP. Their next move is keenly watched by political observers.
5. Damodar Rout expelled from BJD
Causing huge embarrassment to the party by his controversial statements and taking on his own party over corruption, senior BJD leader and former minister Damodar Rout was expelled in September. He had earlier been removed from State Cabinet and BJD vice-president post.
6. Wings of Srikant clipped
Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Srikant Jena was removed as the Congress Manifesto Committee Chairman. He had been at loggerheads with the OPCC leadership.
7. Aparajita quits IAS, joins BJP
Former IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi quit Government service to join the BJP. Her joining assumed significance as she is being propped up for a major role in the State party unit during 2019 elections.
8. BJD supports BJP in Parliament
Despite its proclamation of equidistance from both BJP and Congress, the BJD supported the BJP-led NDA candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh for Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha. The party’s walkout during no-confidence motion against Modi Government was also seen as support to the party.
9. Naveen keeps everyone guessing
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao’s meeting with Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik at Navin Nivas on December 23 in a bid to cobble up a non-BJP, non-Congress federal front of regional political parties gave rise to new speculations.
10. PM-CM blow hot, blow cold
Shedding his aggressive targeting of Naveen Patnaik Government only three months back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Odisha avoided naming both the CM and BJD though he was scathing on the State Government. Naveen returned the fire in the same vein without naming the PM or BJP but targeting the Central Government. The fire of questions from both sides raised the pitch at the end of the year.
The cyclone Titli
Death of nearly 60 persons in cyclone Titli that hit South Odisha exposed the limitations of the Zero Casualty policy of the State Government. The State Government was woefully unprepared for floods and landslides that claimed maximum lives in Gajapati district.