KalingaTV News Network
By Soumyajit Pattnaik
Die is cast. Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda has finally sent his resignation letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker to step down as a MP. After his suspension from BJD in January this year, the estranged relationship could not have lingered further and the embattled MP finally put the seal of approval on the mutual divorce.
What Next For Jay?
Jay Panda will now be unshackled by the discipline and ethos of the BJD to pursue his goals which are in sync with his current ideological beliefs. If Jay is of the view that the current BJD leadership has failed in many fronts and the NDA Government at the Centre has got panacea to cure all malaise afflicting the country through Demonetisation, GST, Surgical Strikes & a bevy of other innovative schemes, then the divorce was certainly inevitable. Old ties have to yield place to new political bonds.
Jay is a true national-level personality. He’s often seen in national TV channels (never in regional TV), writes columns in national newspapers and a thought-leader who can equally enthral the audience in Yale University or in his constituency. He has made inroads into Page-3 Metro supplements (dealing with glamour and glitterati) and serious OP-ED pages with equal ease. He has got awards as a good Parliamentarian and the Best Dressed person as well.
The regional theatre was perhaps circumscribing his freedom to pursue higher objectives after being an MP for 18 uninterrupted years. Being in the same position for 18-long years is often frustrating and it becomes very dreary. The “equidistant policy” pursued by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has denied ministerial berths to BJD MPs since 2009. Naveen can hardly be blamed for this either. In the Vajpayee-led NDA Government, Arjun Sethi and BK Tripathy served as ministers. After 2004, the UPA Government led by Congress came to power at the Centre and ruled the country for 10 years. In 2014, the BJP got a majority of its own and no BJD MP again got a chance to be a minister at the Centre.
Thus Jay’s resignation has the potential to propel him into policy making roles at the Centre if he represents a national party. Thus the resignation has the potential to script new success for Jay in future.
After having parted ways with the BJD, speculations are rife that he is likely to join the BJP at an early date. Of course, both Jay and the BJP are completely tight-lipped about this till date. It’s still in the realm of conjecture, but a new ideological bonhomie was growing between Jay and the BJP for a couple of years now. This was evident from his newspaper articles or reactions on Union (General) and Railway Budgets.
Will It Impact Naveen?
While firing the first missile at Naveen, Jay wrote in his Samaj article dated March 28, 2017, “Other parties are gaining ground because of their dynamic new leadership and unless the BJD’s founder urgently deals with the issues outlined above, the party will struggle to face these challenges”.
When Jay raised the issue of “dynamic new leadership” in the Samaj article, his intentions became too obvious. It became crystal clear what and about whom Jay was hinting at. Leadership is always an important issue for any parties apart from its ideology. Jay’s resignation will offer Naveen another opportunity to prove whether he still has the enduring charisma to counter the “dynamic young leaders” in other parties with whom Jay may soon join hands. If Naveen will win the 2019 Assembly polls, then all questions regarding “dynamic young leaders” will lose relevance and recede to the backdrop.
Second, Jay’s fulminations against the party’s style of functioning was being perceived by the common people as an “internal feud” within the BJD. Coverage of this “internal feud” has already consumed tons of newsprint and countless primetime debates. With Jay leaving the party, the “internal feud” will also get a prompt burial in public perception. BJD can now project a more united face. It can now devote more time and energy to face external challenges rather than sorting out internal issues.
It remains to be seen whether Jay’s exit will facilitate building a more cohesive and united BJD before the 2019 polls or some new cracks will come to the fore.
This face-off tested Naveen’s attitude and ability to fend off well-calibrated media attacks. In earlier face-offs ranging from Bijoy Mohapatra to Pyari Mohan Mohaptra, Naveen didn’t face pincer attacks from electronic and social media. If Naveen emerges unscathed from this latest face-off, he will be battle-ready to cope with such run-ins with politicians who are equipped with personal media power.
Is There A Congress Option?
If Jay’s formal entry into BJP gets derailed by stubborn resistance from few State heavyweights, then he can weigh other options as well. After Niranjan Patnaik was appointed as the new PCC president, the grand old party has pulled out all the stops to rebuild its support base at the block and panchayat level. In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress candidate DD Nayak had polled 3.90 lakh votes (in comparison to Jay’s 6 lakh votes) in Kendrapara LS seat while the BJP candidate lost his deposit. Out of the 7 Assembly constituencies of Kendrapara LS seat, Rajnagar, Aul and Salepur were won by Congress candidates in 2014. Since Jay has been representing Kendrapara LS constituency since 2009, the Congress option cannot be brushed aside completely. But Jay seems to be ideologically more inclined towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies and thus, it will surprise many if there are any last-minute glitches for him to join the BJP.