Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 14:
Even as the Odisha chief minister and head of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) continues to dodge questions on the issue of extending support to the NDA, party leaders appear to have got the green signal to pitch for extending ‘conditional support’ to their erstwhile ally.
While most BJD leaders are articulating such a view only in private, a few seniors have apparently been authorised to go public with it.
It all started yesterday, a day before Naveen returned to the state capital and the man entrusted with the task of firing the first salvo was Pravat Tripathy, who said the BJD could do business with BJP under some conditions. He then went ahead and even spelt out these conditions: special category status to Odisha and protection of Odisha’s interest in the Polavaram project.
Many senior leaders of the party are also in favour of reviving the tie with the former ally and even being a part of the government at the Centre that will give them Ministerial berths and packages to the state.
“If the exit polls do turn out to be correct, do we have an option other than supporting the NDA?” asked a cabinet minister in the Naveen Patnaik government.
“There is no problem in giving conditional support to NDA, which is all set to come to power at Centre. We have paid the price of maintaining equidistance from both the national parties. If we support BJP at this juncture, the state may get a special package and other assistance that it did not get during the UPA regime,” said another senior BJD leader on the condition of anonymity.
Senior BJD leader Jay Panda, the face of the party in Delhi circles, said the matter needs to be discussed within the party and a call on this will be taken by the party supremo.
“There has been a demand from some quarters in the party for extending conditional support to NDA. But the issue needs further discussion within the party after which party president Naveen Patnaik will take the final call,” Panda told reporters at New Delhi.
Political analysts, however, feel the BJD could support NDA as it would want BJP’s support in the Odisha assembly in the event of BJD not getting an absolute majority there in the 147-member Assembly.
Since the intelligence department of the state government, in its report, has projected only a thin majority victory for BJD, it may need the support of the BJP to run the government in Odisha smoothly.
Besides, the regional party, which has been entangled in a series of scams including coal, mines and chit fund, wants to save its skin by being on the right side of the next at the Centre.
While the CBI is inquiring into the coal and chit fund scams in the state, there is every possibility that the Supreme Court may hand over the mining scam to the central investigating agency to probe the matter.
“BJD cannot afford to be hostile to the BJP, which looks all set to form the government, at this juncture since it is facing CBI probe in various scams. Besides, Naveen Patnaik has to run the government smoothly. He can’t run the government with a wafer-thin majority, as predicted, when some party leaders are likely to turn dissident,” said an analyst.