Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 7:
The worst fears of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik are threatening to come true. If the report perpared by the state intelligence is anything to go by, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) will just about scrape past the half-way mark in the Assembly, winning a maximum of 80 seats in the 147-member House, and stay content with just six (yes, you heard it right) seats in the Lok Sabha in Election 2014.
The projections of the intelligence department suggest that the BJD would win 77 (+_3) seats, Congress 35 (+_5), BJP 23 (+_5), CPI 1, CPM 1, Samata Kranti Dal 1, Ama Odisha Party 1 and Independents + Aam Admi Party 5.
The BJD’s hopes of playing a ‘bigger role’ at the national level in the post-poll scenario – and even seeing its president becoming the Prime Minister in case of a hung Parliament – have been rudely dashed with the party projected to win no more than six seats in the Lok Sabha.
In what certainly would be particularly galling for Naveen, the BJP, which he had snubbed so tellingly in the run up to the last general elections, is set to have the last laugh, set as it is to win as many as 10 out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Congress, which had won six seats last time, is all set to shed one, as per the intelligence projections.
The projected figures can hardly be music to the ears of the BJD supremo, whose body language while addressing the media after his return from New Delhi on Sunday had given the game away. Hectic confabulations with party leaders the next day had buttressed the impression that for all his bravado in public, Naveen is a worried man these days.
While the figures leave no room for doubt that Naveen Patnaik would become the Chief Minister for the fourth time running, the wafer-thin majority projected means he will have to do a tight-rope walk for the entire duration of his next term since it won’t need more than five MLAs to reduce his government to a minority.
Senior BJD leaders, tired and fed up of playing ‘servants’ to the ‘monarch’, are actually relishing the prospect of a Naveen Patnaik being kept under a tight leash.
The prospect of a fourth successive government, however, is little consolation for the BJD boss, who had hoped to strike a good bargain with the next government with his dozen plus MPs. If the intelligence projections come true, his room for manoeuvre would be severely restricted when talks start for the formation of the next government.
With 10 seats in the kitty in a state where it had never won a seat on its own, it is the BJP which will now call the shots – and not the BJD – in any talk about supporting an NDA government at the Centre, which looks a near-certainty at this stage.