Why BJP-BJD Alliance Talks Failed In Odisha?

Bhubaneswar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) are now gearing up to cross swords in the poll battle in Odisha with alliance talks having failed after weeks of deliberation.

The suspense over the pre-poll pact ended after BJP state president Manmohan Samal on Friday confirmed that the saffron party will go solo and contest all 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats in Odisha. Hours later, BJD also announced its decision to go it alone in the twin polls.

While BJP asserted that it will fight the elections under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of 4.5 crore Odias, BJD claimed it will win three fourth of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the state.

BJP clearly stated its differences with the regional party over various issues pertaining to the interest of the people of the state and its pride. The impoverished people of Odisha are not able to reap the benefits of welfare schemes launched by the Modi government as those are not reaching the grassroots, said Samal.

However, one wonders as to why the two political parties were unable to arrive at a formula for forging an electoral alliance. Political observers cite several factors which appeared to have led to the collapse of negotiations.

1.No agreement on seat-sharing

Analysts are of the view that BJD and BJP failed to arrive at an agreement on the number of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats where the two political parties can field their candidates. Though BJD seemed to have adopted a flexible approach towards the number of Lok Sabha seats to be shared with BJP, the regional party was not keen to concede much space with regard to the Assembly seats and reportedly stuck to its demand for contesting 112 of the 147 Assembly seats, which it had won in 2019. The Naveen Patnaik-led party was ready to leave only 35 Assembly seats for BJP and the saffron party found the offer unacceptable. They were also not sure as to which seats they will get.

2.Stiff resistance of Odisha BJP leaders

From day one, state BJP leaders were against any form of alliance with BJD as they were not ready to join hands with the regional party after opposing it over the last 15 years. Some leaders are stated to have personal rivalry with the ruling party. The fate of leaders who quit BJD and joined BJP would also have become uncertain.

3.Question of credibility

Many leaders raised questions about the justification of forging alliance between the ruling party and main opposition party and rejected the proposal. They were of the opinion that joining hands with BJD after attacking the government over many issues for 15 years would put the party’s credibility in danger.

4.⁠ Advantage Congress

Political observers also state that possible gains for Congress from a BJD-BJP alliance probably promoted the two parties to pursue separate paths in the upcoming twin elections. A good number of state BJP leaders believe that the saffron party is benefitting from the anti-incumbency against the BJD dispensation and striking a deal with the Conch party at this juncture would by default give Congress a fresh lease of life in Odisha.

5.Dissension & revolt within both parties

Differences had also cropped up during negotiations between the two parties over the nature of government. While BJD agreed to support BJP-led NDA at the Centre, it was unwilling to be part of government if NDA returns to power. As per its formula, BJP would not have been a part of the government in the state. The proposal was not acceptable to BJP as they would no longer be in the Opposition and cannot even exercise power of being in the government, hence only adding to the treasury bench strength (in the eventuality of the possible alliance coming to office) but not having a say in governance.

6.Alliance narrative sparked negative reactions from grassroots

Adverse reactions from the field are believed to be another reason which possibly compelled both the parties to apply brakes. Those at the grassroots level were disillusioned and confused over the issue. The top leaders of both the parties felt that the ground situation was not conducive for an electoral alliance. It was felt that disenchantment among workers would have an adverse impact on the outcome of polls. They were also wary of the fact that it could trigger rebellions within their parties and leave a section of voters disgusted with their machinations.

Beginning May 13, elections to the 147 seats in the state assembly and 21 Lok Sabha constituencies will take place on May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1.

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