Message from Delhi Krushak Adhikar Samabesh
By Soumyajeet Pattnaik
With the Krushak Adhikar Samabesh in Delhi, the BJD has decided to beard the lion in his den. Led by party president Naveen Patnaik, the BJD today displayed its firepower in the national capital. The entire party shifted base to Delhi to make a spirited attack against the Union Government on its “monumental neglect of the farmers”.
The CM led from the front in launching a broadside against the BJP and the Central Government. Addressing the Delhi Samabesh, CM Naveen said, “Should we forget the promises made in our manifesto during elections? We should never forget our promises. The BJP has forgotten all the promises made to the farmers after coming to power. It’s the Union Government’s responsibility to fix Minimum Support Price for food grains. It’s also the responsibility of the Union Government to implement the Swaminathan Committee Report. The Centre can’t shirk its responsibilities”.
The CM also sought a quid-pro-quo to absolve the Centre of its responsibilities on the farmers’ issues if Financial Autonomy demand of the state will be met. With Financial Autonomy, the demands of the farmers can be met and there would have been no need to come to Delhi, the CM added.
Is the BJD displaying a more aggressive posture by holding a Samabesh in Delhi? The CM named the BJP once and didn’t mention the name of PM Narendra Modi at all during his entire speech at Talkatora Stadium. PM Modi in both his speeches at Khurda and Baripada had avoided taking the name of Naveen Patnaik or the BJD.
Thus while the strikes and counter-strikes have gathered pace, there have been no deviation till now from the rules of engagement of not naming and targeting the rival captains.
As the political faceoff exacerbates, the message is loud and clear. The BJD and BJP will fight for every inch of political space in Odisha. At the same time, the political bridge connecting PM Modi and CM Naveen will be delicately preserved and it will not be allowed to collapse completely. There are ample reasons why the battle for Odisha has intensified.
There are two reasons why Odisha now figures prominently in PM Modi’s radar. First, the obvious reason is to win more LS seats from Odisha which may compensate the loss in states like Rajasthan or MP. Second, if the BJP can deprive the BJD of a majority in the Assembly to form the next State Government, then mutual interdependence will increase.
From the BJD perspective, the party wants to put the ball completely in the Centre’s court for neglect of the farmers’ issues. Rural distress and agrarian crisis have ended the uninterrupted triumphs of Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh. Before PM Modi can raise “plight of Odisha farmers” at his next rally in Balangir, the BJD by holding a rally in Delhi has driven home the point that the Centre was the biggest impediment for which farmers are deprived of their legitimate MSP.
Apart from PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi is also scheduled to visit Odisha on January 25. So far, it was a bipolar contest in Odisha. With PCC president intensifying his campaign and Rahul Gandhi ready to pick up the gauntlet for the Kalinga battle, a political blockbuster is in store for the Odisha voters.
Apart from holding the Krushak Adhikar Samabesh in Delhi, three BJD MPs (Tathagat Satpathy, Pinaki Mishra and Prasanna Patsani) today met Rahul Gandhi and handed over a letter from the Odisha CM on 33% reservation for women in Parliament and State legislatures to the Congress president.
It will be interesting to wait for PM Modi’s visit to Odisha on January 25 and Rahul Gandhi’s visit on January 25. A triangular contest in Odisha will certainly provide more manoeuvring space to CM Naveen to play the role of a balancer. Many pundits have already started predicting CM Naveen’s likely tilt in the post-poll scenario. But a week is always a long time in politics.
BJD’s Krushak Adhikar Samabesh in Delhi can be interpreted as a riposte to the new urgency shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to unveil a slew of new projects and address political rallies in Odisha. The frequency of PM’s visits to the State has suddenly gathered momentum after the BJP lost elections in the 3 Hindi heartland states.
On his last two trips to Odisha on December 24 and January 5, PM Modi had pilloried the state government on issues ranging from underachievement of irrigation potential to chit fund scam, from the Odisha Government’s track record on women safety to the failure in delivering justice to a deceased rape victim despite stringent provisions in law.