Did Internal Surveys Giving BJP 70 Assembly Seats Put Spanner On Alliance Talks In Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: The battle lines have been drawn in Odisha after the ruling BJD and the main opposition BJP failed to stitch an alliance even after weeks of deliberations.

While the regional party has begun its ticket selection process and marathon meetings with senior leaders, MP and MLAs from every constituency, the saffron party is likely to announce its candidates from the state for the Lok Sabha polls on Sunday.

If sources are to be believed the alliance talks primarily fell through on the contentious issue of sharing of Assembly seats. The two parties had reportedly decided to go for a 2:1 ratio favouring the BJP in parliamentary elections and the BJD in the assembly polls. While the BJP was to contest 14 of the 21 LS seats, the BJD had agreed to put up its candidates in the remaining seven. Similarly, in the assembly elections the BJD was to fight in 98 constituencies and the BJP in 49 segments.

The BJD had 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. The BJP state unit, however, persistently demand for a larger share of seats, throwing a spanner in the negotiations.

The reason: Four internal surveys of the party had shown that the Naveen Patnaik government’s popularity was on the wane. The first survey in the autumn of 2023 showed BJP could win just eight seats in Lok Sabha and 32 seats in the assembly election in Odisha if they contested independently. The subsequent surveys, however, showed a gradual upward trend in favour of the saffron party with the latest putting the numbers at 17 seats for Lok Sabha and a whopping 70 for assembly seats.

In 2019, the BJD bagged 112 MLA and 12 MP seats while the BJP got 23 MLAs and eight MPs.

A senior BJP leader familiar with the developments in Odisha said the final call was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the top leadership, “after assessing the ground realities”. “Both sides believed 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.

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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