Post-Cyclone BJP-BJD Bonhomie Leaves Voters Perplexed & Confused

Manoj Kar

Bhubaneswar: Last month it was election time- there was trading of barbs and war of words between BJP and BJD, Naveen Patnaik-led regional outfit. As the heat and dust of the polls has settled down, new-found bonhomie between the rival parties has left everybody baffled, fuelling speculation of possible post-poll tie.

The battering of cyclone ‘Fani’ seems to have erased hostile political relation with the leadership of the parties locked in goodwill exchanges.

“Both the parties were sworn enemies as Odisha went to polls last month. Now they are talking like trusted friends. The adage- there is no permanent friend and foe in politics- holds good Odisha. We the voters are being taken for ride and are being befooled by these crafty and power-hungry politicians including Prime Minister Naveen Patnaik and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik”, a voter in Bhubaneswar who had voted against BJD said requesting not to be named.

Many other electors who had exercised their franchise by taking active part in the ‘festival of democracy’ were cynical of BJP-BJD’s exchange of pleasantries and spoke on the same line as that of the nameless voter in the State capital.

BJP president Amit Shah while blaming the TMC for the yesterday’s violent clashes during his roadshow in West Bengal had a word of praise for Odisha’s regional party satrap Naveen Patnaik.

Such violence culture does not exist in Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha. However Shah’s encomium appears absurd and self-contradictory given the fact that a BJP leader had been gunned down in Khurda town during the third phase of polls. Ironically, both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Shah had hit out at Naveen and had blamed the State government for unleashing violence culture in poll-bound.

BJD chief Patnaik had made it a ritual in poll rallies by describing the BJP-led NDA central government as migratory birds who skip visit in natural disasters and turn up in Odisha in elections to seek votes.

As if to prove Patnaik’s poll rhetoric wrong, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited the State on May 3, three days after cyclone Fani pulverized the State. Modi had showered praise on Patnaik and his government for its massive evacuation drive ahead of cyclone Fani.

PM Modi had ,”Naveen babu ne bohat acha plan kiya, Bharat sarkar usmein unke saath reh karke sari cheezon ko aage badha payegi. (Naveen Babu did very good plan, the centre will act in tandem to speed up everything (post-cyclone restoration)”

A week later on May 13, Biju Janata Dal government reciprocated and praised BJP-led NDA government at the Centre for its support to tackle cyclone Fani that killed at least 64 people and rendered over five lakh families in the State.

During the entire phases of simultaneous polls for Lok Sabha and Assembly, both BJD and BJP campaigned vigorously targeting each other by stinging public speeches in poll rallies. Naveen was at the centre of attack by BJP for corrupt bureaucratic-centric governance while BJD chief had left no stones unturned in assailing the centre on planks like anti-Odisha policy.

Patnaik often asserted that his party was maintaining an equal distance from both the Congress and the BJP. However in the run up to 2019 twin polls, he had revised his stand by saying that BJD will support the government in the centre who best safeguards Odisha’s larger interest.

The new-found BJP-BJD bonhomie in the aftermath cyclone Fani leads one to believe that BJD satrap will tilt towards BJP-led NDA and will extend outside support if it manages to come to power for the second successive term. How it all depends on the number of seats that BJD manages to bag in the lower house.