Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD), widely seen as a supporter of the NDA government, said it was ready to join an anti-BJP grand alliance.
BJD’s Lok Sabha floor leader, Bhartruhari Mahtab, on Wednesday said that if other parties came together for an alliance, the BJD would take a call on its stance on maintaining a distance from the Congress and BJP.
“Once the front takes shape, we may reconsider our position,” Mahtab said.
The BJD’s announcement comes at a time when Bihar’s chief minister, Nitish Kumar, is attempting to cobble up an anti-BJP alliance after mending ties with arch rival Lalu Prasad. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who retained power for a second term, also announced that she was looking to patch together an anti-BJP pact for the next polls. Even Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who earlier flew solo, is maintaining cordial ties with Kumar and Banerjee.
The BJD is the fifth largest party in the Lok Sabha, and will keep close tabs on the developments in Uttar Pradesh that goes to polls early next year; the results of these polls will impact the general elections in 2019 .
“The BJD will take an appropriate decision on joining the front at an appropriate time. But we are not thinking (that) any political party (is) untouchable,” Mahtab said.
For the past few months, the BJD has increasingly confronted the NDA on many issues, shifting from its earlier role as cushion for the Centre against attacks from the Congress-led opposition. Party leaders claim that Odisha has not benefitted from the NDA government.
Given the strong anti-BJP current growing among political parties, the BJD will want to be a part of the alliance if it comes to power in the next election. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is in regular touch with several non-BJP chief ministers, including Banerjee and Kumar, sources said.
The non-BJP stand will also benefit the party on its home turf, said a BJD leader on the condition of anonymity. “The BJP has emerged as the key challenger to the BJD is Odisha. So, being a part of a non-BJP alliance will not adversely affect BJD’s poll prospects in the state,” the leader said.
Regarding an alliance in UP, Kumar, on Wednesday, said that a grand alliance could be possible only if the Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party (SP) came together. The Congress, Kumar’s ally in Bihar, also seemingly opened talks with the SP when their election strategist Prashant Kishor met SP chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Tuesday.