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Naveen rubbishes pre-poll alliance, says BJD equidistant from Congress and BJP

BJD minister Damodar Rout had raised eyebrows by saying that the BJD would not mind if the Congress wants to join the BJD to counter the BJP’s “communal agenda”.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2017 20:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Naveen Patnaik,Odisha assembly elections 2019,Damodar Rout
Odisha chief minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar.(Arabinda Mahapatra/HT File Photo)

A day after senior BJD leader Damodar Rout said his party would not mind an alliance with the Congress to keep the BJP at bay in the 2019 Odisha assembly polls, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said his party would keep its distance from both the national parties.

“BJD is equidistant from Congress & BJP. With the blessings of our people we will continue in our fight for the rights of Odisha,” tweeted Patnaik, effectively rejecting agriculture minister Rout’s remarks.

Rout had raised eyebrows on Monday by saying that if Congress wants to join the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) “communal agenda”, then the ruling regional party is ready to accept them.

Rout’s remarks about an alliance with the Congress triggered a sharp reaction from BJD MP Baijayant Panda, who said it was difficult to accept the possibility. “Those of us who assisted in founding the party to undo the gross damage to Odisha by them in ’80s/’90s will find this difficult to swallow,” Panda tweeted.

After Patnaik’s tweet, Rout clarified on Tuesday he had suggested the alliance only in the context of defeating the BJP.

“I never said we need the support of the Congress. I meant to say that in the current political scenario, the way BJP is ruling, there is every possibility of a danger being posed to the unity and integrity of India. Hence, a grand alliance like one taking place in Gujarat is welcome.”

First Published: Oct 24, 2017 19:13 IST