With Gamang joining the party, can BRS dent Odisha’s Fortress Patnaik?


With several Odisha leaders, including former chief minister Giridhar Gamang, ex-MP Jayram Pangi and farmers’ leader Akshay Kumar, joining KCR’s Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS), which is eyeing to expand its party base, political atmosphere has charged up in the state.

However, whether the entry of BRS into Odisha will change its political landscape remains to be seen as the Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is an unbeatable political force in the state since past 23 years.

Defeating the Congress, the BJD formed the government in the state in alliance with the BJP in 2000. However, in 2009, the BJD ditched the BJP and formed a government on its own. In the past decade, the regional party has defeated two big national parties the Congress and the BJP.

While the Congress is becoming weak in one after another election, the BJP has also failed to perform as a strong opponent to the regional party in past panchayat, urban and Assembly elections.

In past also, many political parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Trinamool Congress (TMC), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Left parties tried to enter Odisha politics, but in vain.

Only the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) managed to win four Assembly seats in 2009 when it entered into an alliance with the BJD.

Besides, many of the political leaders, who have recently joined the BRS, were not very much involved in active politics. And, the non-political leaders have not tried their luck in Odisha politics till now.

New inductees in BRS from Odisha claimed that many leaders from different parties in the state are contacting to join them, whereas the ruling BJD and BJP have said that KCR’s party will not have any impact.

Commenting on this, senior BJD leader and Puri MP Pinaki Misra said, “The BRS has taken the leaders from BJP. As per my opinion, the vote bank of Giridhar Gamang will be diverted to BRS from BJP. It will not have any impact on the BJD’s vote bank.”

“Nobody can match the USP of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The BSP may be able to gain a very few thousands of votes in its peripheral areas and that too in two or three districts,” said the BJD leader.

Similarly, BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said, “In the past also, Odisha had witnessed several such parties. But all disappeared at a later stage. So, here the fight is between BJP and BJD.”

“The BJP is fighting on development agenda while the BJD is fighting with its face Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” the BJP leader said.

According to local political analyst Rabi Das, the BRS may be able to put some impact on southern Odisha, especially Telugu-speaking border constituencies.

“Many schemes of KCR in Telangana are better than those in Odisha. Odisha’s Kalia scheme has come from their state. Telangana is providing more money as old age pension then Odisha,” Das said.

“The leaders who were searching for a party which is financially sound, for them, BRS is the best option. So, such leaders will definitely jump into the BRS,” he added.

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