BHUBANESWAR: The disastrous performance of the BJP in the panchayat elections has not only shaken the state leadership but also the mentors who have been remote-controlling the party affairs.
The discontent is now getting louder within the rank and file of the saffron party who have so far been suffering silently due to the highhandedness of a handful of leaders without any base. Unable to digest the humiliating defeat in the rural polls, many leaders wishing not to be named said the BJP will face the same fate in the 2024 General Elections and Assembly polls if the state leadership issue is not addressed.
“The state unit of the BJP is facing a situation akin to the Congress at the national level. The sooner the Central leadership takes a call on the issue, the better. Any ad hocism will further erode the organisational base and will take the party a decade back,” said a senior leader.
Echoing similar concern, senior leader and former MP Kharvel Swain said it is not difficult to defeat BJD. The impression created by the BJD that Naveen Patnaik is invincible is a myth.
Admitting that leadership is an issue with his party in the state, Swain said, “BJP is a national party and an important decision on leadership issue has to be taken by the Central leadership.”
He said the Covid pandemic has become a barrier for the state leaders who were unable to meet key Central leaders in the last two years. The Central leaders are not properly briefed about the state of affairs of BJP in Odisha. With the BJD teasing the saffron party about their tall claims of achievements under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Swain said. “I have no hesitation to say that the party failed to deliver the success stories of the Central government to the people.”
Even as the BJP launched a series of agitations against the BJD government on issues like corruption in rural housing schemes and paddy procurement to Mamita Meher murder case, it cut little ice with the electorate as evident from the spectacular performance of the BJD even after staying in power continuously for more than two decades.
In his response, Swain said organising rallies and demonstrations is not important. Who is leading the agitation is important. Many within the BJP accept the BJD’s allegations that the leaders of the saffron party are ‘paper tigers’ with little contact with the grassroots. Success has many fathers but no one is now ready to take the blame, said a senior functionary.