Will Odisha’s ruling party BJD rejoin the NDA with which it had snapped ties before the 2009 elections?
This question has been doing the rounds in the state since Patnaik travelled twice to New Delhi soon after elections were held for 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly seats.
During his first trip lasting 12 days, Patnaik was learnt to have met several non-BJP leaders. But his second visit for eight days was reportedly to refresh his friendship with BJP bigwigs. After returning to Bhubaneswar, he insisted BJP was firm on maintaining ‘equidistance from both BJP and Congress’.
“We have not thought about it (coalition with NDA, UPA or Third Front) yet. There have been no talks with anyone till now,” Patnaik said.
But senior party leader Prabhat Tripathy had earlier told a local news channel that the BJD might extend support to NDA if it promised to declare Odisha a ‘special category state’. According to political observers, Tripathy could not have said this without Patnaik’s nod.
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Political analysts believe that he has no alternative to rejoining NDA, which is most likely to come to power. “He needs a friendly government at the Centre in view of the CBI probe sought into Odisha’s mining scam worth R60,000 crore,” one of them said.
Meanwhile, BJD insiders said it might be difficult for Patnaik to become the chief minister if the party fails to form a government on its own.