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5 Ms namely Monsoon, Mahanadi, Mahaprabhu, Modi & Maintenance of law & order will impact Odisha polls in 2019

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Kalinga TV News Network

By Soumyajit Pattnaik

Political warriors in Odisha have unsheathed their swords for Kalinga War-2019. As the denouement has begun to unfold, there are certain dramatic twists and turns in the political tale. The Opposition onslaught against the State Government, CM’s office and Naveen Patnaik in particular has gathered new momentum in recent months. But undaunted by the ceaseless barbs, indefatigable Naveen has picked up the gauntlet for the battle ahead. At this juncture, issues can prove to be more worrisome for the government than any potential challenger(s).

As the political heat ramps up further, 5 Ms, namely, Monsoon, Mahanadi, Mahaprabhu (issues relating to Rath Yatra and Puri Shree Jagannath temple), Modi ( PM Narendra Modi’s charisma) and maintenance of law and order will decisively impact the political agenda and can leave their lasting impact on poll outcomes.

In an election year, the importance of a good monsoon is never overstated. As more than 60% of the State’s workforce depends upon agriculture for their sustenance, this vital sector is of immense economic importance for the people of the State. As per Odisha Economic Survey 2017-18, total irrigation potential created was 37.84 lakh hectare in Kharif and 18.07 lakh hectare in Rabi season. In 2016-17, the total cultivated area in Odisha stood at 65 lakh hectare. Thus apart from irrigation potential already created, monsoon can affect the welfare of majority of the citizens in Odisha. Thus a good monsoon will be of prime importance for BJD Government’s bid to get re-elected for a consecutive 5th term.

Next to monsoon, Mahanadi has emerged as a survival issue for the entire State. There is a growing consensus in the state now to oppose Chhattisgarh’s unwarranted activities on Mahanadi lock, stock and barrel. Chhattisgarh is accelerating construction of barrages on Mahanadi to divert water for industrial use and thus depriving Odisha of its due share. Mahanadi has proved to be a great political mobiliser in Odisha in recent months. As lakhs of farmers are left to fend for themselves with canals drying up and thousands of fishermen robbed of their livelihoods, Mahanadi waters can unleash support for any party or turn the tide against another in both western and coastal Odisha. Sensing the growing disenchantment against Chhattisgarh government, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has now come openly against Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh. PCC president Niranjan Patnaik, who has galvanised the Congress within a short span of time, has not frittered away the opportunity to launch a scathing attack on Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Union governments for the burgeoning Mahanadi controversy.

Mahaprabhu Jagannath is always a highly reverential and emotive issue for people of the state. BJP has started a ‘Jana Jagarana Yatra’ over the missing keys of the Ratna Bhandar of Puri Jagannath temple. Besides the missing key issue over which the State Government has ordered a judicial probe, the smooth conduct of Rath Yatra holds the key to get favourable response from lakhs of devotees of Lord Jagannath. Politics is often mixed with religion and Odisha is no stranger to it.

Modi charisma will also determine whether winds of change will blow in Odisha in the coming months. In the recent past, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has amply proved umpteen times his magical ability to swing elections in BJP’s favour. In 2014, Odisha remained impervious to the stunning Modi storm which reduced the Congress to mere 44 seats in Lok Sabha. But Odisha remained untouched by Modi’s awe-inspiring performance in 2014. A resolute Naveen could stop the BJP tsunami. As new political formations are on the anvil to oppose the BJP at the Centre, political observers are keeping their fingers crossed on the impact of Modi charisma in 2019 polls.

Maintenance of law and order is always of utmost importance in determining electoral outcomes in Odisha. Many governments in the past have got bad reputations because of their terrible track record in ensuring security for the common citizens in both rural and urban areas. So far, the law and order machinery seems to be running on professional lines without much political interference.

The State Assembly had passed the Odisha Police Bill of 2015 to provide fixed tenures to the DGP and senior officers, to select the DGP by a panel and to separate normal policing duties from investigations. The Governor returned the Bill. The state Government can now complete the unfinished tasks pertaining to police reforms.

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