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regular-article-logo Monday, 15 July 2024

BJP's ascent to power in Odisha ends in sweet revenge 

All the doors of the Puri temple were thrown open for the devotees on Thursday. With this move, the party tried to strike a chord with the people of Odisha

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 14.06.24, 06:01 AM
Devotees at the Puri Jagannath temple on Thursday when all four doors were opened. 

Devotees at the Puri Jagannath temple on Thursday when all four doors were opened.  PTI

All the ministers of the newly formed Odisha government, led by chief minister Mohan Charan Majhi, visited Puri Shree Jagannath Temple on Thursday and paid their obeisance to the Lord.

Some of the BJP MPs, including Sambit Patra, also accompanied Majhi and deputy chief ministers Pravati Parida and K.V. Singh Deo during their visit to the temple.

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All the doors of the Puri temple were thrown open for the devotees on Thursday. All the doors except the front door had remained closed since the outbreak of the Covid in 2020. With this move, the party tried to strike a chord with the people of Odisha.

After offering prayer at the Jagannath temple, the chief minister said: “From today, all the doors were opened for the devotees. All the barriers have been removed between the devotees and the Lord. We will make budgetary provision to create a corpus fund of 500 crore for the Puri Shree Jagannath Temple.”

The BJP, which started its journey in Odisha 44 years back with just one MLA, is now at the helm of the state administration. Not only did it assume power, but it also took sweet revenge on the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which had abandoned it in 2009 all of a sudden, breaking the decade-old alliance.

The present governor of Chhattisgarh, Biswabhusan Harichandan, was the first president of the Odisha BJP and he remained at the helm from 1980 to 1988.

The party rewarded him handsomely by inducting his son Prithiviraj Harichandan into the Mohan Charan Majhi government.

The party got its first MLA in 1985 and its number increased to 2 in 1990. Later its tally increased to 9 in 1995.

In 1997, the BJP forged an alliance with the BJD, which was created after the demise of the legendary Biju Patnaik. The reluctant Naveen, Biju Patnaik’s son, then stepped into the Odisha politics.

The BJP went to the 2000 Assembly election as an alliance partner of the BJD and won 38 seats. In 2004, it got 32 seats. The decade-old alliance was broken following the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008.

Journalist Girija Shankar Das said: “We still remember how veteran journalist Chandan Mitra came to Naveen Niwas as a special emissary of Lal Krishna Advani, met Naveen, and tried to convince him not to break the alliance. But the BJD leadership insisted and the talks failed. Chandan Mitra had to return to Delhi empty-handed. Though the BJD publicly said the alliance had broken down following the failure of talks on seat sharing, everyone knew why the talks failed. At that time, the BJP leaders vowed to come back to power.”

The BJP contested the election on its own in 2009 and managed to win only six seats. In 2014, its strength reached 10 and in 2019, it improved its tally to 23 and now its figure has jumped to 78.

Another journalist Pradeep Mohanty said: “The BJP capitalised on the issue of Odia pride by highlighting how Naveen Patnaik’s close aide V.K. Pandian tried to hijack the administration and reaped the benefits.”

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