In a move that could be read as indicative of a future political understanding with the BJP, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with all the party MPs – both from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha – on Monday.
Patnaik, who had sought an appointment with Modi, would meet the Prime Minister at about 12.15 pm tomorrow to discuss various issues of the state. This would be first meeting between the chief minister and Narendra Modi after the latter was sworn in as Prime Minister of the country.
Incidentally, Tamilnadu chief minister J.Jayalalithaa is meeting Modi the very next day. However, she is not likely to carry his MP team with her for the meeting.
Naveen’s meeting with the PM assumes significance, politically, as all the MPs of the party would be accompanying him. The BJD has already made it clear during its Parliamentary party meeting in Bhubaneswar that it is ready to provide issue based support to the NDA government at the Centre while adopting a ‘positive’ attitude towards it.
However, some sources say, the reason why Naveen wanted to carry his MPs along is because he did not feel confident about presenting the issues of the state in a convincing manner before the Prime Minister and wanted some of articulate BJD MPs to do the talking on his behalf.
The other reason why Naveen chose the ‘procession’ option, the sources said, is to impress upon Modi that its considerable presence in both the houses, numerically, could benefit both sides politically in the long run.
The BJP too needs the support of BJD to pass crucial Bills in Rajya Sabha since the party is minority in the upper house. BJD has presently four MPs in the Upper House and is all set to have three more soon. One of them is expected to be elected to the Rajya Sabha on June 19.
Although the BJP does not need the support of any party for the government’s survival and sits on the flabby cushion provided by its NDA allies, it may consider having the support of the 20-member BJD team in Lok Sabha in reserve a good idea.
According to sources in the BJD, special category status for Odisha, quick roll out of the Goods and Taxes act, the state’s concern over the Polavaram project, mining sector problems and other development issues would figure in the discussion.
Naveen Patnaik and his government have landed themselves in a sticky situation over the Polavaram project. The issue figured prominently in the BJD’s anti-Centre agenda over the last two years and even found a place in its poll manifesto. However, under the changed political scenario and Modi’s proactive support for the river dam project, Naveen and his party now have to choose between a rock and a hard place.
Sources in the BJD say, the chief minister would seek Modi’s help to provide an honourable exit route to wriggle out of the belligerent stand it has taken so far against the project.
“One way out is to secure a public assurance from the PM that Odisha will not be affected by the Polavaram project. Or else, the party and the government will have to eat crow'”, a senior BJD leader told OST.