BJD, BJP Alliance Talks ‘Fail’, To Cross Swords In 2024 Elections In Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are likely to lock horns in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections in Odisha as talks between the two parties for an alliance have seemingly failed, well-placed sources confirmed to Odisha Bytes on Friday.

Last ditch efforts, involving the top leaders of both parties to stitch an electoral partnership have almost hit a dead end, forcing the two to more or less make up their minds to go it alone, sources said.

“The seat-sharing arrangement did not work as both parties refused to budge,” a source acquainted with the goings-on said. “Both sides believe they have good winning chances in several seats, which resulted in an irresolvable deadlock. This was understandable as the two parties are number 1 and number 2 in the state and have been separately doing spadework to maximise their presence in Parliament and the Assembly,” the source added.

Following this, the BJP has decided to go ahead with its Pradesh Election Committee meeting here on Saturday to discuss its candidates in all constituencies. The BJD, too, is said to have started efforts to finalise its list of nominees for all Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats.

Uncertainty loomed over the proposed alliance after the BJD reportedly stuck to its stand that it would contest in 112 seats in Vidhan Sabha and offered the remaining 35 MLA seats to the BJP. The regional party was also reportedly unwilling to part with more than 11 Lok Sabha seats, leaving little hope to the saffron brigade of striking an ‘equal deal’.

Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik’s March 9 video in which he described ‘rumours’ and ‘lies’ as the worst aspect of politics was apparently circulated with a view to create an escape route in case the alliance talks did not materialise.

On Thursday, BJP’s state president Manmohan Samal told the media the BJP will form the next government in Odisha alone, but later kept the alliance door slightly ajar by adding the party central leadership can only take a final decision when asked about the possibility of an alliance with the BJD.

Both parties are unlikely to admit breakdown of talks for an alliance as it would mean publicly accepting that they were trying to strike a deal, which could affect their electoral prospects. “They would try to make it appear as if it is business as usual and avoid the alliance word. This is more or less the agreement,” a source said.

The delay in sealing the deal, which was in the works for the past few weeks, was primarily being attributed to reluctance of the BJP’s Odisha leaders for a pact with the BJD and the latter’s insistence to retain its 2019 MLA strength. However, following marathon meetings in New Delhi over the past days there was expectation that the BJP national leadership might prevail upon their state leaders to agree for a coalition with the regional outfit. On Tuesday, the BJD requested the BJP central leadership to arrive at a decision without much delay.

After days of negotiations involving pulls and pressures, however, the two parties could not arrive at a consensus on the seat-sharing adjustment for the upcoming Parliamentary and Assembly elections In 2019, the BJD bagged 112 MLAs and 12 MPs while the BJP got 23 MLAs and eight MPs.

The BJD reportedly cited the performance of the two parties in the different polls since 2009 and insisted that the regional party was strongly placed to get over at least 100 seats in the state legislature. This was unacceptable to the BJP, sources disclosed.

The two parties were earlier in coalition from 1998 to 2009, when the Naveen-led party severed ties with the saffron outfit in the run-up to 2009 polls. The seat-sharing ratio then was 4:3 in favour of BJD for both Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats.

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