BJP-BJD alliance splits in Orissa over seat sharing

In a major jolt to NDA ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Biju Janata Dal tonight severed the decade-old alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party as the seat-sharing talks between the two parties collapsed. Soumyajit Pattnaik reports.What happens to the NDA now?

india Updated: Mar 08, 2009 09:05 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik
Soumyajit Pattnaik
Hindustan Times

The decade-old alliance between the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended on Saturday over seat-sharing wrangles.

After two rounds of meeting with BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra, BJD chief and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced here that the talks for the simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections in April had “failed”.

The Congress’ first reaction was jubilant, as spokesperson Manish Tewary said, “The more the NDA disintegrates, the more it suits the Congress-UPA.”

But BJD sources, who refused to be named, said the party might now strike a seat-sharing accord with the Left. The Third Front — of which the Left parties are constituents — has been courting Patnaik for quite some time to form a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative at the Centre. The BJP has not yet lost hope, though. A senior party leader said, “The last word on this has not yet been said.” Top BJP leaders will meet in New Delhi on Sunday to take stock of the situation.

However, a senior state BJP leader, who did not want to be named, told HT before the talks began on Saturday, “The BJD wants us to contest from just 35 assembly seats. The party’s image will suffer if we concede to all the demands of the BJD.”

Patnaik told mediapersons after a two-hour-long meeting at his residence on Saturday, “The BJD and the BJP will go to the polls separately.” Mitra, however, offered no comment.

Mitra was rushed to Bhubaneswar by BJP on Friday after state leaders failed to arrive at an agreement. In the 2004 elections for the 147-seat assembly, the BJD won 61 of the 84 seats it contested while the BJP’s score was 32 out of 63.

In the LS polls, the BJD won 11 of the 12 it contested while the BJP won seven out of nine seats.

(Inputs from Vikas Pathak and Saroj Nagi in New Delhi)

First Published: Mar 07, 2009 21:51 IST