Challenger or Sideliner: What Will Dharmendra Pradhan Choose?
Pradhan is the frontliner among the BJP in Odisha who stands up to the incumbent chief minister as a challenger.
In a departure from the routine exchange of hyperboles, the ruling party has raised the interesting issue challenging the political mettle of Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP’s poster boy in Odisha and undeniably who nurtures the ambition to stake a claim for the chief ministerial position.
Pradhan is the frontliner among the BJP squad here who not only takes a very strong position but has the hidden desire to stand up to the incumbent chief minister as a challenger.
For the BJD, so far, Pradhan remains the usual dartboard. Challenging his position, the BJD has thrown the gauntlet at him daring him to come down to the middle and fight an election instead being a sideliner indulging in the luxury of convictions only.
A BJD spokesperson has taken such a dig at the Union Minister and it is an occasion where Pradhan should accept the challenge and choose a constituency for a Lok Sabha or Assembly seat and repeat his feat of 2000 and 2004.
Pradhan should not give an impression that he is willing to wound but afraid to strike.
Critics had been relentless in the past to dub the BJP’s earlier performances in the previous two periods as a product of BJD chief Naveen Patnaik’s popularity only when Pradhan also was in the fray and got elected to the Assembly twice.
And in 2009, post the break up with the BJD, not only BJP’s performance suffered a huge setback but Pradhan himself lost the election sending a signal that riding piggy-back is easier than taking the bull by the horn.
Lot of water has gone down the drain between then and now. From number three or a naught the saffron has today emerged, purportedly, as the contender for the top spot or going by the BJP national president Amit Shah’s mission-120 slogan, it is all over for the BJD!
It is high time that Pradhan, who till date spearheads BJP’s attack, must rebut the teasing one-liners of the rivals and climb up to the ring.
But the present scenario within the BJP is a bit convulsive. The BJP in Odisha is like star-studded blockbuster where each lead actor tries to muscle-in to earn the applaud, and this race sometimes ushers in a climate of jealousy when the finer performances get dwindled.
Pradhan must have the inkling that, hypothetically, even if the BJP makes it to the top, upsetting the ruling party, a crowd of ambitious personalities like Baijayant Panda, Bijay Mohapatra, Damodar Rout, Kharbela Swain and few leaders from within the BJP, like Sambit Patra, rumoured in some circles as a possible surprise imposition by the Sangh to lead Odisha, may pose the challenge for Pradhan.
(Published in an arrangement with The Samikhsya.)
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