It’s a season of shocks for Odisha BJP.
On August 27, a day before the State Assembly met for the Monsoon Session, former minister and senior BJP leader KP Singhdeo delivered a shocker to the party’s state president Jual Oram by holding a parallel meeting of the legislators in his residence.
Singhdeo had resigned as BJP legislature leader a week ago.
Six legislators of the BJP including independent MLA Pratap Sarangi boycotted the meeting convened by Oram at the party headquarters.
Secretary of the BJPLP Karendra Majhi, a known supporter of Oram, was also present at Singhdeo’s meeting— signalling the vertical rift within the party which once was a ruling partner with the Biju Janata Dal.
That all former ministers of the party—except Biswabhusan Harichandan, Golak Naik and senior leader Bijay Mohapatra and several other leaders from different districts attended the meeting at Singhdeo’s residence was a pointer to BJP’s decline under Oram, former Tribal Affairs Minister.
The State BJP leaders had long been making attempts to draw the attention of the Central leadership to the problems within and the need for taking immediate corrective measurers.
But they were not heard.
The BJP which was dumped by the Biju Janata Dal in the 2009 election has been riddled with crisis after crisis, thanks to Oram’s poor way of functioning.
After given a drubbing in the Assembly polls, the party’s leadership was thrusted on Oram to take on the powerful BJD.
But BJP only progressed towards a “signboard party” in Odisha with Oram at the helm.
First came the rout in Kendrapara municipal elections; it was followed by the loss in the Umerkote bypolls last year. The BJP needed introspection before the February panchayat polls.
There was strong infighting—thanks to Oram’s love for a coterie.
“The party had everything at its disposal sans unity and a sense of direction in the Umerkote bypolls. BJP had a strong candidate but it lost, thanks to sheer mismanagement and one-upmanship of Oram. His arrogance and the habit of not involving other senior leaders in the electioneering cost us the seat,” rued a senior leader.
After each loss, cries for Oram’s head got more shrill.
Oram was asked to lead the party in Odisha in December 2009 soon after the BJD snapped ties and then he was wholeheartedly welcomed by the party.
For, he was a tribal leader of stature, had the ability to curb the factionalism in the party unit and was known for his strong anti-BJD posturing.
But, lack of democracy in decision-making distanced him from senior leaders. He formed a coterie which took him away from the think tanks.
In April, the rebel group had met party president Nitin Gadkari in their oust-Oram campaign. They boycotted the state executive meeting too.
“The powerful group decided to take some drastic action to wake up the leadership before the party drowned,” a former minister explained.
Meanwhile, Singhdeo has ruled out any plans of joining the BJD.
“There is no question of joining BJD. If there is any alliance between BJP and BJD in the future, I will take sanyas from politics,” he said.