The fight is clearly personal between BJD-turned-BJP member Baijayant (Jay) Panda and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The latter has taken Panda’s exit somewhat personally, for the duo had a very close equation before things soured between them to such an extent that Panda chose to leave the party. These elections, Patnaik has used all the party and the state’s might to take on not so much as the BJP as this one candidate from the party. He spent the last two days of the campaign at Kendrapada (Panda’s constituency) and as many as 120 state officials and MLAs were sent to campaign here against Panda. In fact, Patnaik told a colleague recently that he will make sure that Panda loses his seat. This has certainly been one of Odisha’s most high-profile battles and one that is closely watched. For, if Panda wins against all odds, then will he give the BJP’s Dharmendra Pradhan a run for his post—as the party’s tallest leader in the state?
It’s election after all
While Shatrughan Sinha is contesting in his old Patna Sahib seat from the Congress, his wife Poonam is contesting the Lucknow seat from the SP. Despite the fact that the SP and Congress do not have an alliance, Shatrughan Sinha is busy campaigning for his wife, claiming that his was a “special” case. (This, despite the fact that the Congress has fielded a candidate in Lucknow as well). But what is intriguing the BJP is that Shatrughan should have chosen this particular seat for his wife, for the BJP candidate from here is Rajnath Singh. And Rajnath is someone who had always reached out to Shatrughan Sinha when he was with the BJP; the two had a good equation, which is more than can be said about Shatru and the BJP’s top two—Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Despite this, Shatrughan fielded his wife against his old friend. When NewsX asked him this, he said that this was not personal and he and Rajnath still shared a warm equation. Sinha also added that actually the offer to contest from Lucknow had come for him but since he had declared that he may change his party but not his constituency, he then persuaded his wife to stand from there. Well, that’s the way politics works.
Read between the strategy
A little known fact about Bhupender Yadav, the BJP’s most low-profile and also the most powerful general secretary, is that he is an avid reader. You will always see him with a book, for when he is not campaigning or strategising, he catches up on his reading. A conversation with him is most refreshing because apart from election nuggets and off-the-cuff factoids, he will also discuss the latest book in the market.
All is not well within Lalu Yadav’s family and this is impacting the party’s performance in the ongoing elections. Lalu’s daughter Misa Yadav, who is a sitting MP, is said to be a little miffed that it was Tejashwi and not herself who had been appointed Lalu’s heir-apparent. According to sources, she has teamed with Tej Pratap, who is also upset due to the same reason. Tej Pratap is also angry at the fact that his estranged father-in-law Chandrika Rai has been given the RJD ticket from Saran over his objections (Tej has filed for a divorce from his wife Aishwarya). Yet, Chandrika was given a ticket and now Tej is busy campaigning against Rai and has even fielded a candidate against him. Recently, when Tejashwi fell ill with a heat stroke after campaigning, Tej Pratap took a dig at his brother, declaring that “I am the second Lalu Prasad Yadav. He (Lalu) is a very energetic man. He used to attend 10-12 programmes in a day. Now leaders fall sick in only two to four programmes.” In fact, even the JDU has been taking a dig at Tejashwi’s heat stroke, comparing him to Nitish Kumar’s hectic campaign schedule. Oh dear!