Anti-Polavaram sentiment could forge new ties between regional parties

26AjitJogi (File) Former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi(right), who recently floated the new Chhatisgarh Janta Congress(Jogi) political party

When former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s recently launched political party Chhatisgarh Janata Congress (Jogi) joined the anti-Polavaram dam rally at south Odisha’s Malkangiri, organized by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janta Dal (BJD) on September 20th,a new possibility came to surface that regional parties could join hands on local issues. Jogi’s party has stated that Polavaram in Andhra Pradesh was going to adversely affect Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Telengana states. In that vein, it is trying to unify regional parties of three states that includes Telengana Rastra Samiti, the ruling party of Telengana, and Odisha’s BJD to protect the interest of their respective states.

Chhattisgarh Janata Congress(Jogi), under the leadership of Ajit Jogi’s son Amit Jogi M.L.A, undertook a bus yatra with his supporters  from Jagdalpur in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh to Malkangiri and addressed the rally organized by BJD there. He said that areas like Bastar of Chhattisgarh and portions of South Odisha like villages of Malkangiri would get submerged by Polvaram. These are tribal pockets. He has been taking up the issue in his state assembly and had brought a private members’ bill on it to restrict dam’s height to 150 ft. It was passed unopposed,said his party in a statement, adding that the union government had ignored the demand. Amit Jogi said,no public hearing has been done on Polavaram in Bastar region so far and it should be done in all the affected areas. Jogi’s party said it has earlier tied up with TRS of Telengana on Polavaram.

Of course,BJD is in dilemma over joining hands with Jogi’s party because the latter is against BJD on Mahanadi issue. Jogi’s party, being Chhattisgarh based, is opposing Odisha’s demand on Mahanadi. When BJD team had gone to Chhattisgarh to study the issue, the Chhattisgarh Janta Congress had protested. BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Dev said that there was no understanding with  Chhattisgarh Janta Congress. The latter’s leaders had just reached Malkangiri and joined the protest rally of BJD. The BJD held rallies in seven south Odisha districts against Polvaram and sent memorandums to President of India. Of course,Polavaram will benefit Telugu Desam ruled Andhra Pradesh and that party is an ally of the BJP. There is a speculation that ,to garner Telugu votes of south Odisha, the TDP may field candidates in constituencies having sizeable Telugu population which will ultimately  affect BJD and help BJP. When union civil aviation minister and TDP leader Ashok Gajpati Raju attended a meeting and met the public of his community months back in south Odisha, speculation was that the party would field candidates there in 2019. So, Jogi’s party coming to support  BJD in south Odisha on Polavaram may be acceptable to the latter. However ,lately, BJP party in Odisha has also adopted an anti-Polavaram stand.

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