Alliance In Odisha: ‘BJD Wants Clarity, Urges BJP To Take Final Call Quickly’

Bhubaneswar: With the seat adjustment talks between the BJP and the BJD delayed due to reluctance of the former’s Odisha unit leaders, the regional outfit has reportedly requested the saffron party bosses to take a final decision by Tuesday evening.

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“The BJP has to ensure its house is in order. The deal was more or less discussed at the highest levels of both parties. Owing to delay on their part, we are losing valuable time and also confusing our workers and followers. We are fine either way. We need to go ahead with our plans as polls can be announced very soon,” a BJD source said.

“We have communicated the same to the top BJP bosses,” the source added.

According to top BJD sources, the organisational machinery of the party had slowed down its spade work for the upcoming twin elections ever since talks for a formal seat-adjustment with the BJP started over a week ago. The party top bosses are reportedly keen to go ahead with their jobs with or without alliance as the countdown for the elections has begun.

The regional party has been quite guarded over its responses on the possible re-marriage with the BJP 15 years after they broke up. While senior party leader Debi Prasad Mishra and Arun Sahoo last week dropped hints before journalists by saying that the party would take any decision in Odisha’s interests, certain other BJD leaders like Nrusingha Sahu have said any decision on such a matter will be taken by party president Naveen Patnaik. On March 7 evening, BJD top leaders V K Pandian and Pranab Prakash Das visited New Delhi and reportedly discussed alliance-related issues with certain BJP national leaders.

BJD insiders claim the initiative for an alliance came from the top BJP leadership and hence the regional party is entertaining the idea. “We are confident to retain power in the state for a sixth consecutive term under Naveen Patnaik. Why should we be keen for an alliance that could eventually restrict our organisation and prospects,” a party legislator maintained.

In 2019, the Conch party won in 112 MLA and 12 MP seats and pocketed seven of the eight by-elections since. It also tasted overwhelming success in the 2022 panchayat and municipal elections. “Our surveys and assessments show we would return with over 100 MLAs seats,” the leader claimed.

The need for an alliance, the BJD camp says, is to ensure a win-win situation for both parties. The BJD top brass is believed to have very good terms with the BJP central leadership, which has been demonstrated on several occasions including Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent visits to Odisha not uttering a word of criticism on the BJD dispensation and rather describing Naveen first as ‘friend’ at Sambalpur and then as ‘popular Chief Minister’ at Chandikhol. The speed with Pandian’s application for voluntary retirement from IAS service in October 2023 and reelection of Ashwini Vaishnaw to Rajya Sabha in February had also indicated that the two sides have a great understanding, sources pointed out.

Somewhere this has left the state BJP leaders red-faced and hence they are unable to now digest the fact that an alliance is very much under consideration, BJD sources contended.

The BJP leaders, who are currently in a huddle at Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s official residence in New Delhi, are believed to have been advised by their party top brass to weigh the pros and cons at the earliest. “The BJP top leadership will thereafter take the final call. The party honchos want to take a decision before a meeting of NDA members slated for March 14,” a party source said.

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