BRS Odisha, a bang or whimper, wait for 2024

Hence, political analysts do not read much into BRS’ Odisha entry and consider it part of KCR’s national ambitions.

Published: 29th January 2023 11:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th January 2023 11:13 AM   |  A+A-

K Chandrasekhar Rao

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao| Express

Express News Service

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) has spread its footprints to Odisha. A former Odisha Chief Minister in Giridhar Gamang apart, more than a dozen former MPs and MLAs have joined the BRS boat with much fanfare in Hyderabad.

For a state where the political space has been dominated by two major political outfits, BRS promises some excitement with the next elections very much in sight. What KCR is doing is completely in sync with his plans for a bigger space in national politics. The two-time Telangana CM has been reaching out to various regional fronts as well as non-Congress and non-BJP leaders as part of the federal front that he has been aspiring to create.

In the past, he had approached his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik too but knowing the BJD boss’ strong state-centric political focus, it was not a surprise that he received little response for his moves.
That’s why the very first question is on the kind of political and electoral impact KCR hopes to generate. What is interesting about BRS’ Odisha move is the diversity and demography of leaders who have decided to join the two-time Telangana CM’s bandwagon. 

You have the regular political leaders in the Gamang family members. Then there are the likes of former Koraput MP Jayram Pangi; Nabin Nanda, a former MLA from Dhenkanal having represented multiple political parties; Ramchandra Hansdah, a former MP; a former BJP leader Snehranjan Das and more. These leaders come from different parts of the central, coastal and northern Odisha where BRS will have very little connect.

Also leaders from farmers’ associations such as Navnirman Krishak Sangathan, trade unionists, RTI activists as well as journalists have joined the party. These are groups which can find resonance in BRS. The success behind KCR’s Telangana movement and his back-to-back wins in the state can be attributed to his focused programmes for farmers, dalits and socio-economically disadvantaged groups which is why it is not hard to understand like-minded people joining forces with him.

What is critical, however, is can these groups come together and make a cut in the state’s political canvas and gain space in elections.The Gamangs are a popular face in Koraput, having years of service to the region through their representation. In the tribal-dominated southern Odisha, expect the former CM and his family members to make some buzz in the days to come. Gamang Senior is likely to be the face of the BRS in the state.

Besides, the undivided Koraput as well as neighbouring districts have a sizeable Telugu-speaking population. This populace has a strong connect and exchange with Telangana and Andhra Pradesh which will make BRS easy to relate to – socially and culturally. KCR would hope it converts into votes when the time comes.

Also important is to know how Odisha votes. In the last 22 years, it has chosen one party and its supreme leader – Naveen Patnaik. Even BJP, despite its vote share growing significantly, has found it difficult to challenge him so far. While Congress’ base has eroded fast and migrated to either BJD or BJP, national outfits CPI and CPM which used to grab decent vote share have witnessed their electoral fortunes dwindle. Besides, people do not vote on the lines of caste and religion.

Hence, political analysts do not read much into BRS’ Odisha entry and consider it part of KCR’s national ambitions. While it remains to be seen what his party will achieve, but if KCR is serious about his strategy, it can eat into the voters’ space in southern belts of Odisha which is what both BJD and BJP would not like.But this, though, will take time. So, expect no wonders right away.

Siba Mohanty
Resident Editor, Odisha


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