The BJP in Orissa suffered its first pre-poll jolt after a prominent tribal MLA from western Orissa quit the party to join the newly floated Sammrudha Odisha party.
Brundaban Majhi,a P legislator from Laikera constituency in Sambalpur district,said he was feeling suffocated in the party as the state leaders were only interested in furthering their own cause.
Majhi,who defeated former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal in the last Assembly election,has sent his resignation letter to BJP state president Suresh Pujari. Majhi,one of the 12 ST legislators in the 33-member strong BJP legislature party,is expected to formally start his poll campaign under the Sammruddha Odisha banner from February 27 by organising a rally in Kuchinda constituency,from where he intends to fight.
Sammruddha Odisha,a regional political party,was started a couple of years ago by Jatish Chandra Mohanty,a former IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre.
“The BJP leaders and ministers never listened to our woes and all that we got was false consolation. Ministers like Manmohan Samal,who was then in charge of revenue department,looked the other way when I complained that vacancies for tribal people were being filled up with general category people,” said Majhi. “Though the Orissa tribals voted for Congress,they turned to BJP in the last two Assembly polls thinking that the party might change their lot. But now I feel it was all hogwash.”
However,BJP president Suresh Pujari denied having got any resignation letter from Majhi. “Once I get it I will let you know,” he said.
Incidentally,Majhi’s existing constituency Laikera has been abolished after delimitation. BJP sources said he wanted to contest from neighbouring Kuchinda constituency,also reserved for tribals.
“But the party turned it down as that would mean unseating the existing MLA. Perhaps he is making all the noise to build a pressure on the party leadership. He tried all these stunts after the murder of Laxmanananda Saraswati last year. We do not attach much importance to it,” a BJP leader said.
Party leaders,however,said Majhi would face disciplinary action once he joins another party. But Majhi says BJP’s woes would worsen in the coming days as its tribal vote bank has eroded considerably.
“The way Naveen Patnaik is functioning under the directions of Pyarimohan Mohapatra has left little space for BJP to grow. Besides,the BJP also did nothing for the tribals,taking the tribal voters for granted. The party would surely get a feel of the tribal anger in the coming Assembly polls,” he said.