Bihar Fallout: TMC MP Derek O’Brien Takes Potshots At BJD Amid Talks Of Political Realignment
Bhubaneswar: The NDA is now practically down to BJP and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD after the political crisis in Bihar, said Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O’Brien while responding to a query on whether Nitish Kumar’s move has strengthened opposition ranks.
This comes a fortnight after he cast aspersions on the secular credentials of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his party by describing it as “India’s number one enabling party to execute the bigoted, divisive agenda of the BJP”.
“The bigger job at hand is states winning their own states. Telangana (Rashtra Samithi) will have to defeat BJP in Telangana. We are confident that we (TMC) will do it in West Bengal. The BJP will be reduced to just a couple of seats. DMK will do the same in Tamil Nadu. Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav will do the same in Bihar. Once you start bringing these numbers together, then you have a serious number,” the TMC MP told NDTV on Wednesday.
Taking a swipe at Naveen, Derek said he was not counting BJD in the Mahagathbandhan since it is obvious from their stand in Parliament that the regional party is an ally of the BJP. “I am willing to concede that the BJD will support the Narendra Modi government through thick and thin. But the BJP suddenly has a problem in Rajya Sabha now, which is on a knife edge with a difference of less than 10 on either side. It is where YSR Congress and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy have to stand up to be counted,” he added.
The aggregate of all state results will decide 2024, he said but parried questions on who will lead the opposition in the fight against BJP.
Notably, the BJD has extended support to both NDA’s Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees in the recent elections.
Though Naveen continues to assert his party’s stand of maintaining equidistance both from the BJP and the Congress, events post 2019 Lok Sabha polls hint at a tacit understanding between the two parties. BJD not only decided to back BJP’s Om Birla for the Speaker’s post but also sprang a surprise by supporting the candidature of BJP’s Ashwini Vaishnav for Rajya Sabha from Odisha. This despite the fact that the party had the requisite strength in the State Assembly to send its candidates unopposed to the three vacant seats in the Upper House.
The Naveen Patnaik-led BJD has also supported several controversial bills in Parliament to bail out the Centre. This included the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the triple talaq and the citizenship amendment bill.
The regional party was criticised for maintaining a stoic silence on burning issues of fuel prices hike and essential commodities which left the Parliament proceedings disrupted in April this year. The BJD members also supported contentious bills like the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022, during the discussion in the House.
In 2019, Naveen announced that the BJD will not be a part of the Opposition’s Mahagatbandhan. His party also skipped the meeting convened by West Bengal CM and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee in New Delhi in June this year to devise a joint opposition strategy for the presidential election.
The recent visit by Amit Shah to Odisha and the appointment of Sunil Bansal as Odisha BJP Prabhari, however, may put the parties back in the fighting ring with the saffron party eyeing to come to power in Odisha in 2024. On August 8, Shah asserted here that the BJP would form the government in Odisha with Modi at the Centre in 2024.
Political analysts had also predicted that the BJP would harden its stance against the regional party after the presidential and vice-presidential elections, keeping the 2024 general elections in mind.