Hectic efforts to rescue the BJP’s alliance with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) began on Friday, with prime ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani dispatching senior BJP MP and The Pioneer editor Chandan Mitra to Bhubaneswar for another round of discussions.
“For the last five days there has been a deadlock in our negotiations with the BJP,” Suresh Pujari, BJP state president, admitted to Hindustan Times.
“The BJD wants to change the seat-sharing ratio that we have been following ever since the alliance was formed. It has served both parties well through three Lok Sabha and two assembly polls. Why change it now?”
The seat-sharing ration followed for the last 11 years since the alliance began, through three Lok Sabha polls and two assembly polls, was four against three — for every four seats the BJD got, the BJP took three.
Thus the BJD contested 12 and the BJP nine, of Orissa’s 21 Lok Sabha seats; similarly the BJD fielded 84 candidates and the BJP 63, for the state 147-member assembly.
This time, however, BJD leaders have been arguing that since the BJP fared poorly in a few local elections of late, a new seat-sharing formula was required, with BJP contesting fewer seats than before. “The BJP should realise what the ground reality is like and allow the BJD to contest more than 100 seats in the assembly,” said BJD general secretary Damodar Rout.
More alarm bells rang in the BJP as CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury made a public appeal to the BJD to snap links with ‘communal forces’, and join the Third Front.
Lok Sabha and Assembly polls are being held in Orissa on April 16 and 23.