Bhubaneswar, March 9 (LocalWire): With the induction of former Kendrapara MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda into the party, the BJP seems to be winning the perception war against its main rival, the Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal.
Compared to BJD’s latest import, former works secretary, Nalini Kant Pradhan, who is widely speculated to be the party’s likely candidate from the Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat, Panda not only enjoys a clean image but is also seen as suave, sophisticated and articulate, attributes currently on a premium in the BJP.
Add to this, the fact that Panda hails from a resourceful family and he becomes irresistible for a party like BJP, which is looking for leaders with a high public profile in the state.
As an acquisition, Panda seems to be much more valuable for the BJP even compared to the likes of former Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik, whom the rival BJD had welcomed with great fanfare.
Bureaucrats and police officers, irrespective of the image they earn during their service period and which sometimes becomes their public identity even in later life, come into politics with certain handicaps.
While they tend to become a prisoner of their image they also lack political experience.
Unlike them politicians, even as novices, enjoy much more flexibility and strike a rapport with the people with relative ease.
Panda’s prospects in the BJP would be even better because he is not only pretty experienced but also enjoys a certain social cache which his rivals in other parties lack.
No wonder the party has made him its national vice-president and spokesperson.
The extra responsibility being thrust upon him will act as a spur for him and also help his rise within the party.
Talking of perception the BJP has been lucky in being able to attract new faces like former IAS officer, Aparajita Sarangi who can easily strike a rapport with the people because of the goodwill she had earned as a bureaucrat.
If the party fields her from the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency, as it being speculated now, she can give any candidate in the BJD a run for his or her money.
This is because of her public image as an upright and efficient bureaucrat who had made a name for herself during her stint as the commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation.
She has the image of being people-centric and will be able to sway the voters in an urban dominated constituency like Bhubaneswar.
The BJD will struggle to find a match for her.
Even if the ruling party fields Arup Patnaik, as is being speculated, Aparajita will prove to be a much better candidate.
Patnaik, after all has never worked in the state and is still seen as someone with a stiff upper lip.
The BJP, thus, seems to be one up on the BJD as far as the perception game is concerned.
However, the party needs to work harder on its campaign machinery and must scale up its psychological war against the ruling party as the elections near.