Pinaki Misra: Rise of BJP does not worry BJD, we still have the top spot

Neelu Vyas

Just a few days ahead of BJP National Executive meet in Bhubaneswar, lawyer turned politician and Biju Janta Dal Leader, Pinaki Misra has alleged that the BJP is trying to split his party.

Dismissing reports of factionalism and alluding to the recent Twitter war between BJD leaders Baijayant Jay Panda and Tathagata Satpathy, Misra said that Twitter was a juvenile system of communication and that the two leaders should have conveyed their grievances on the party forum.

Pinaki dismissed BJP’s recent victory in panchayat elections saying that Naveen Patnaik’s charisma has not faded. He emphasised that chief minister Patnaik was fully in control of party affairs.

Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:

If you look at the evolution of BJD since 1997, and the way it has performed in the recent panchayat elections, do the panchayat elections shock the party?

In 2014 elections, BJD got 43% votes.  We are down by 3%, after 17 years are down to 40% vote. Panchayat elections be seen in the perspective of complete collapse of Odisha. In 2014, we got 43%, Congress got 28% and BJP got 22%. This time Congress got 15 % of vote which is totally anti BJD vote. Entire vote went to BJP this time.  They got 33% now. So now we are at 40%, BJP is at 32-33% and Cong is at 12%, That is the problem. It has become a bipolar fight. We lost 140 seats. We had 653 seats out of 853 seats previously in 2012. This time we got 479 seats. We lost 143 seats in four districts, Balangir, Mayurbhanj, Kalahandi & Sundarganj. We were taken by surprise with the collapse of Congress. No one expected that Congress will collapse this way.

Collapse of Congress and rise of BJP, does it worry the BJD?

Not really. We swept the coastal area. Now BJP is number two. The fight in Odisha is for number two position. Now Congress is number three and BJP is number two. Makes no difference to BJD. It is just that we are down by 3%. We need to check on the ways to get back our 43% seat.

Why are senior leaders and parliamentarians in your party involved in a public spat? Does the party need to introspect? We saw Jay Panda and Tathagata Satpathy in a twitter war.

I completely believe that twitter is a juvenile pattern of communication. These are individuals using it, I cant comment upon. I believe a light-hearted tweet was sent out and others just followed it. Seems that he reacted in little vigorously. I didn’t give much importance to it. There is no infighting in the party . That is the difference between Congress & BJD. There are five factions in Odisha, which are fighting each other savagely. Which will ensure the doom of each other. There is only one leader in Odisha, Naveen Patnaik. We have 20 MPs in parliament and 117 MLAs in the assembly.


BJD leader Pinaki Misra speaks to Rajya Sabha TV's Neelu Vyas.

BJD leader Pinaki Misra speaks to Rajya Sabha TV’s Neelu Vyas.

So BJP party president Amit Shah is going to give a clarion call in Bhubaneswar that Naveen Patnaik government will be thrown out in 2019.

They have a right to aspire, they are a political party. They may give a clarion call because of the huge popularity of PM during the general elections. They did massive campaigning in Odisha. People still gave 20 out of 21 seats to BJD. Any clarion call is for their own carders to rally.

Jay Panda in his twitter has said that the party needs an introspection. Even Naveen Patnaik has addressed a similar thought in one of his rallies…

No it was not a tweet. Jay Panda wrote an entire opinion piece asking for introspection. Lot of people have controverted many of the things he has said. Some of the things are over hyped. It took a lot to build the party since 1997 by Naveen Patnaik. He even said that there is a decline of 3% vote this time, so we need to introspect. We need to address the border areas as it is one of our major concerns. This is the time to introspect and plan, so that we can get some of the Congress votes in our kitty rather that letting BJP get the entire lot. Naveen Patnaik has a vision which he showed in four elections.

Why the tweet by Jay Panda and his op-ed page was made to look like that nothing is right in BJD, Naveen Patnaik is losing steam…

BJP has mastered the art of propaganda. Much of these propaganda was spawn by their propagandists, both is social media space and regional media space. One has to believe that Naveen Patnaik is there since 17 years unchallenged for four terms.

Why did leaders go public with their verbal spats in social media forum?

I thought it was avoidable. It must be a light hearted banter. It can be avoided.

(You can watch the entire interview on the show To The Point at 10 pm on Wednesday, only on Rajya Sabha TV)