Bhubaneswar: It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of politics in Odisha, as the Aya Ram Gaya Ram culture, once synonymous with Uttar Pradesh, is gaining currency in the state.
Political leaders, once committed to changing the political scenario in Odisha, are instead changing parties, language and ideology in the hope of acquiring power and money.
And who suffers? The common masses, who had great expectations that these political leaders will change the scenario.
Odisha’s prominent media tycoon Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who floated the Aama Odisha Party after his expulsion from the Congress in 2013, joined the Biju Janata Dal in 2018.
Before joining the ruling party, he was running after price, prestige and pension for Odisha’s farmers. He was also the voice of investors in the state, who had been cheated by chit fund companies. He also actively participated in the “Bhasha Andolan”. Moreover, he was a “hope” for the common people of Odisha.
He was elected as Bhubaneswar MP in 1996 to the 11th Lok Sabha on a Congress ticket. He had been with the BJP before that. In November 2013, he formed the Ama Odisha Party after he was expelled from the grand old party for alleged “anti-party activities”. In the 2014 Assembly election, he was defeated by a BJD leader by 601 votes.
With the help of his vernacular daily, he gave voice to those opposing the BJD. “For the past few years, his newspaper was publishing reports against the BJD,” said Alok Kumar, a student of journalism.
However, he surprised everybody by suddenly joining the BJD. People in the state have now stopped believing that alternative politics is possible in Odisha, given the rate at which credibility is taking a beating.
Similarly, Utkal Bharat founder and former MP Kharavela Swain has returned to the BJP ahead of the 2019 elections.
He has twice been MP from Balasore constituency. He later founded Utkal Bharat and spoke of improved education, problems of farmers and steps against corruption by organising street meetings throughout Odisha.
The public had taking his voice against the ruling party seriously.
On November, 2018, Swain was allegedly manhandled by some BJD supporters while holding a public meeting at Dungura village under Khaira block. At that time all the people of Odisha were critical of the ruling BJD.
But when he joined the BJP and was given a ticket for the Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency, people again lost faith.
There was also a hope from veteran leader Bijoy Mohapatra.
Once a powerful minister in the Biju Patnaik government in the early 1990s, Mohapatra is a founding member of the BJD, but was ousted from the Naveen Patnaik-led party in 2000.
He subsequently floated a regional outfit, Orissa Gana Parishad, in 2001 and later merged it with Sharad Pawar’s NCP. He joined the BJP after the NCP entered into a pact with the BJD for the 2009 polls.
On November 30, Mohapatra quit the party along with another BJP national executive member, Dilip Ray. The 70-year-old veteran had then regretted his decision to join the party in 2009. But his decision was not accepted and on Thursday, Mohapatra again returned to the BJD.
The state may get any party as the ruling party. But it is very difficult to get an alternative political scenario in Odisha, said an expert on politics.