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The Oldest Political Party in Odisha

India is a country, bestowed with alluring landscapes and bewitching Flora and fauna. Its richness in traditional culture and heritage has always evolved with the integration of migrating people, since the beginning of human civilization. This tradition was maintained in everything, be it in the sector of agriculture or in simple production. Traditionalism also reflected in the behavior and attitude of the Indians. The European countries took advantage of this behavior and ruled over India for at least 200 years. The innocent Indians were not able to raise a voice against their oppression. The leaders whose constant, continued movements forced the East India Company to take an exit from India, adopted the Constitution and declared India as a Sovereign, Democratic and Republic State on January 1950.

With the advent of democracy, numerous political parties emerged. However, before India was declared as a democratic nation, the only political party formed was the Indian National Congress in December 1885. The Constitution instilled people with various fundamental rights and primarily gave them the voting rights, which in a way, allowed the people to have an opinion of their own and a medium to express it, in the field of politics. As such, the political parties served as the medium of a link between the people and the representative government, so as to make democracy seem realistic. These parties act as guiding wheels, making people aware of their political responsibilities towards their country, that is, their role as responsible citizens.

It is regarded as a fact that Indian politics was quite synonymous with coalition politics and so was Odisha, an eastern state of India. Back in 1912, Odisha(earlier known as Orissa), was a part of the Bengal Presidency and it was on 1st  April 1936 that Odisha got its independence and identity as a separate province. In 1937, the state of Odisha held its first election to the Provincial Legislative Assembly provided by the Government of India Act and the Indian National Congress won the election but declined to take charge of the office for which the Gajapati of Paralekhamundi, Shri Krushna Chandra Gajapati was made the Prime Minister of Odisha Province. But his tenure lasted for only 80 days as Congress decided to accept the office and Shri Biswanth Das was invited to form the government and adorn the chair of Governor. Another round of such election was held in 1946, and then also Congress won and Shri Harekrushna Mahatab was assigned as the Governor.

When India achieved Independence, the princely states of Odisha, gave away its rights to the Government of India.with this huge merger, the first general elections held in 1951, after the Constitution was adopted, Congress again took the lead and was entrusted with the power to form the government with the Hon’ble Chief Minister as the head. This is how the emergence of the Indian National Congress can be traced to Odisha and its coalition with the center.

Till the year 2000, the Indian National Congress was almost the only ruling party in Odisha. It was Shri Harekrushna Mahatab of the INC who took up the cause of merger of the princely states of Odisha with the Odisha Province and wanted a single administration for the states and province which would lead to efficient planning, while Shri Nabakrushna Choudhury contributed a lot towards the social development of Orissa, in terms of irradiation of untouchability, steps to ensure legal rights of land and many more as such. Under the leadership of Shri Biju Pattanaik, Congress won nearly 60 percent votes and he was able to become the Chief Minister. Most of the technological and industrial development took place under his tenure. When Nandini Satpathy of INC took charge as the Chief Minister, Odisha witnessed development and growth in almost every sphere and thus, she was nicknamed the Iron Lady of Odisha. Congress focussed and achieved comprehensive development in the economic, education, infrastructure sector during the period when Janaki Ballabh Pattanaik was the Chief Minister of India. Presently, the Indian National Congress has lost the center-stage and plays the role of opposition. These are the works of a few of the eminent figures of the Indian National Congress in Odisha.

It was some differences in the attitude and view-point of the leaders in Congress which led to their downfall. Also, the leaders failed to keep up with the original ideology of the INC, and as such Biju Janata Dal(the present ruling political party in Odisha) took advantage of the situation and rose to power and has been able to govern the state till date.

This scenario is a depiction that be it in any field, household, industry, or politics, every member of an organization needs to stand solidly in unison to taste the fruit of success, otherwise, the slightest deviation can act as a reason for the organization to crumble down. Here, even after ruling for about 60-70 years, the oldest political party, the INC in Odisha could not be able to withstand the differences among them which resulted in their party standing nowhere in the present time.

Aditee Swain
Aditee is a student at Ravenshaw University pursuing BSc Economics. My hobbies include reading books, singing, writing, basically short stories. I have a dream to travel to a lot of places with my family and friends.

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