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BJD will keep distance from BJP and Congress, says party leader Bhartruhari Mehtab

Bhartruhari Mehtab, BJD’s Lok Sabha floor leader, said the party thought its support for the NDA nominee Harivansh in the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman polls would bring good sense on the UPA.

india Updated: Aug 11, 2018 09:37 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bhartruhari Mehtab,Bhartruhari Mehtab interview,BJD
BJD MP Bhartruhari Mehtab said the party would maintain distance from both BJP and Congress and would not align with any part.y(PTI)

Biju Janata Dal (BJD)’s support for National Democratic Alliance’s Rajya Sabha deputy chairman candidate Harivansh has triggered speculation about a possible alliance between the two parties. Bhartruhari Mehtab, BJD’s Lok Sabha floor leader, spoke to Saubhadra Chatterji about his party’s vote:

BJD maintains that neither the NDA nor the previous Congress-led UPA government helped Odisha. Then why support the NDA?

Both NDA and UPA had offered BJD to put up a candidate for Rajya Sabha deputy chairman (post) but we wanted a consensus candidate to win. With opposition, every two days the names of their candidates changed. On Wednesday, the NDA said JD(U) MP Harivanshji will be their candidate. We have no qualms or quarrel with JD (U). And the requests came from PM Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and (Bihar CM) Nitish Kumar to our chief Naveen Patnaik. So the party decided to support Harivansh. By that time, no one had come up from the UPA with their candidate’s name.

You could have skipped the voting, as you did in the Lok Sabha floor test.

Opposing or not participating in a no-confidence motion is one thing. Electing someone to the chair to run the house is another thing. We thought our support for the JD (U) candidate will bring good sense on the UPA. But even as the other supporting parties declined to contest, Congress contested just to contest. I don’t think they were very serious to win.

What signal your stance in Parliament is sending to the BJD voters?

The people are intelligent enough to understand. We did not support a BJP candidate. And we also did not support a Congress candidate. Had it been a non-Congress candidate from the UPA, then our explanation would have been a bit difficult. The AAP declined to participate because of a Congress candidate. And Congress never approached them. Congress is still sitting on a pedestal and thinking other parties will run to it.

There is an effort to form a federal front to take on the NDA. Where does the BJD stand?

We will maintain distance from both BJP and Congress. We would not align with any party. People of Odisha have been very gracious to support Naveen Patnaik. The federal front was an idea of 2014 to find an alternative set of ideas on how to make the states more powerful. But today it is being propagated only in view of polls.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 07:45 IST