May 26, 2024
Odisha: CPI(M) Campaigns against BJD Misrule and BJP’s Jumlabaji

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ODISHA has completed two phases of elections, covering 9 Lok Sabha seats and 63 assembly seats. Both the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections are being held together. The state has witnessed multiple visits from prominent BJP figures, notably prime minister Modi, who has made three visits to Odisha in May, along with several central ministers and chief ministers from BJP-governed states. Conversely, BJD leaders, spearheaded by chief minister Naveen Patnaik and political figure Karthikeyan Pandian, formerly a bureaucrat, have also undertaken extensive tours. Despite lofty assurances, vigorous propaganda, and substantial financial investments, the anticipated impact of the "Modi Magic" is not expected to resonate significantly in Odisha.

It's noteworthy that on March 5th, Modi and Naveen shared a platform and exchanged praises during a meeting. Just a month prior, the BJP and BJD were deeply engaged in discussions about a potential electoral alliance in the state. However, this alliance failed to materialise, possibly due to conflicting interests. The BJD is determined to maintain its grip on power in the state, while the BJP aimed to revive its previous partnership from 2000 by becoming a coalition partner in the state government. As an alternative, the BJP sought approximately 70 assembly seats. The BJD was apprehensive that if the BJP, with BJD's support, were to secure more than 50 Assembly seats, it might emulate the Maharashtra scenario, forming its own government and displacing Naveen Patnaik. Following the collapse of the electoral alliance, the BJP is significantly displeased, and both parties are now entrenched in a fierce electoral contest.

The electorate of the state is currently observing the election campaign led by Prime Minister Modi and other national leaders of the BJP sinking to its lowest point. Accusations and derogatory remarks against their "undeclared ally," the BJD, and its leader, Naveen Patnaik, have become the norm. This campaign has devolved into personal attacks, crossing a line of civility.

However, the BJD is not engaging with the BJP in a purely political manner. Neither party is addressing critical issues affecting people's livelihoods, such as widespread unemployment resulting in significant outmigration to other states, the struggles faced by farmers, the absence of a guarantee for minimum wages, the lack of permanent recruitment for numerous vacant positions, and the exploitation of natural resources by government-backed corporations. Interestingly, both parties are discussing farmers and the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy, which is a major concern for the state. During elections, both parties resort to deceptive tactics in their attempts to sway the electorate.

The CPI(M), CPI, and other Left parties have been actively involved in numerous struggles across the state with the main goal of uniting non-BJD parties against both the BJP and the 24-year reign of the BJD in Odisha. However, these efforts failed to materialise largely due to the Congress's lack of strategic vision and overestimation of its own influence, inadvertently benefiting both the BJP and BJD. Currently, the Congress has only declared support for the CPI(M)-held seat in Bonai, while the CPI(M) is backing the Congress candidate in the Sundargarh LS seat.

In this scenario, the CPI(M) joined with the CPI and other Left parties to contest the crucial Bhubaneswar elections. The party is contesting for a total of 7 Assembly seats: Bonai, Ranpur, Nilgiri, Salipur, Khurda, Morada, and Chitrakonda. Of these, Bonai and Chitrakonda are reserved seats for STs.

The CPI(M) is currently conducting an impressive campaign throughout the state, opposing the dangerous communal and fascistic agenda of the BJP, against the opportunistic and pro-corporate agenda of the BJD for the past 25 years, as the BJD has supported all the anti-people measures of the BJP.

In Odisha's Bonai region, a tribal-dominated mining belt, the CPI(M) is fighting to retain the current seat for the fourth time. The recent introduction of mechanisation in mining and loading over the past two years has posed a significant threat to the livelihoods of tribal mining workers, potentially leading to job losses for thousands of individuals from tribal communities. Notably, corporations such as Adani, Mittal, Vedanta, Jindals, and Tata have expanded their operations into the Bonai area, further exacerbating the situation. In response, numerous tribal people and workers are actively resisting these corporations under the banner of the red flag and CITU. They view the election as an integral aspect of their ongoing struggle.

When Laxman Munda, the CPI(M) candidate, submitted his nomination, it was clear that he had a strong and widespread support. Despite the scorching heat, around 20,000 people, including over 5,000 women dressed in tribal attire, congregated in the small town of Bonai to showcase their solidarity. The entire town came to a halt as tribal drums reverberated and women danced during the rally.

Public gathering was addressed by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, Surjyakanta Mishra, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, Ali Kishor Patnaik, secretary of the CPI(M) Odisha state committee, Bisnu Mohanty, state secretariat member, Pramod Kumar Samal, secretary of the Sundargarh district committee, Janardan Dehury, the Congress LS candidate, and Laxman Munda, the candidate. The meeting was chaired by Jahangir Ali.

The tall claims made by the BJD regarding the state's progress during its extensive tenure have been debunked as false. Each year, over two million youths migrate to other states in search of livelihood due to the BJD government's failure to create job opportunities and increase minimum wages in the state. The door remains wide open for corporations to exploit valuable minerals such as bauxite, manganese, and iron ores. These concerns are solely addressed by the CPI(M) and other left parties during the campaign, rather than any other political party.

Despite the fierce battle between the BJD and BJP, the BJD overlooks the threat of the BJP's Hindutva agenda in order to safeguard the constitution and democratic rights. Instead of opposing Modi's exploitation of the Ram Temple for electoral gains, the BJD touts the construction of the Puri Jagannath Temple Parikrama wall as one of its achievements.

CPI(M) and other Left parties, have called for the defeat of the BJP-BJD alliance and urged the people of Odisha to support the Left parties of the INDIA alliance where they are contesting, while voting for the major partner of the INDIA alliance in all other constituencies.




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