Arrogant BJD in ruins as BJP takes over Ganjam

BJD opened its doors to workers and leaders of other parties as a result of which loyalists were sidelined and factions created.
BJP flag used for representational purpose only.
BJP flag used for representational purpose only.Photo| PTI

BERHAMPUR: The BJD office and residences of its leaders in Berhampur city which once brimmed with activity wore a deserted look a day after the party was handed over a shock defeat by the BJP.

Still, people of the district continue to have a special place in their hearts for former chief minister Naveen Patnaik who made Hinjili Assembly segment his electoral home. The district accepted Naveen as its leader when the BJD was formed after the demise of his father, legendary statesman Biju Patanik who was the MP of Aska. A novice in politics, Naveen headed BJD and was fielded from Aska parliamentary seat vacated by his father. Not only did he get elected with a comfortable margin, he also became a union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet.

However, leaders of BJD persuaded Naveen to enter state politics. Naveen resigned and was replaced by Kumudini Patnaik, wife of Ramkrushna Patnaik, one of the founder members of the regional party. In 2000 elections, Naveen chose to contest from Hinjili, a part of Aska parliamentary constituency.

The people of the district without any hesitation elected him and favoured BJD wholeheartedly. Since 2000, Ganjam stood firmly behind Naveen and his party which made a clean sweep in every election. This year too, Naveen was elected but the other leaders of BJD were decimated mercilessly by the all-pervading Modi wave.

Despite being Naveen’s home district, Ganjam remained underdeveloped. Dependent on agriculture, the district does not have irrigation facility. Still people reposed faith in BJD in hope for development.

Meanwhile, BJD opened its doors to workers and leaders of other parties as a result of which loyalists were sidelined and factions created. As no concrete steps were taken to resolve the issues, the factionalism widened further. However, such problems rarely came to fore in the past due to V Sugnana Kumari Deo, the queen of Khalikote and veteran leader Surjyo Narayan Patro. The two leaders often worked as crisis managers of the BJD. But after their demise, the top leadership and the elected representatives made no attempts to address dissidence.

In the meanwhile, Naveen implemented several development projects for the district but lack of follow-up action projects meant the projects remained incomplete even as it was depicted otherwise on record. This led to displeasure among people. Over the time, the elected representatives became arrogant and overconfident and never tried to gauge the mood the public.

The leaders safeguarded their own interests and it backfired demolishing the fort of BJD in Assembly and parliamentary constituencies of the district. While Pradeep Panigrahy, expelled from BJD joined BJP and won as MP of Berhampur, Aska parliamentary seat represented by BJD since 1998, has now gone to BJP. Anita Subhadarshini, who won from Aska is the daughter of Kumudini who was fielded as a BJD candidate in the 2000 by-poll necessitated by Naveen’s resignation. Now Anita will represent Aska which her mother did 24 years back.

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