Naveen mocks BJP losses, doesn’t rule out joining ‘anti-BJP’ alliance
BJD chief and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik on March 15 mocked BJP for its Lok Sabha bypoll losses in Uttar Pradesh. Significantly, Patnaik did not rule out aligning with an anti-BJP coalition in future
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on March 15 told reporters in Bhubaneswar that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is sinking fast in the country, citing the defeat this week of BJP candidates in bypolls to Gorakhpur and Phulpur parliamentary seats in Uttar Pradesh. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo said "We haven't thought of any alliance for the time being," but also did not rule out aligning with an anti-BJP coalition in future.
The BJP has been aggressively working to dethrone Patnaik, who has been Chief Minister of Odisha uninterrupted since 2000. With BJP investing energy and resources into Odisha and Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan spending a lot of time in the state, BJP has become the main threat to BJD’s dominance in the state, displacing the Congress. While the BJP put up an impressive show in the panchayat polls held last year, Patnaik was delighted when the BJD put the BJP on mat in the recently held bypoll for the Bijepur assembly constituency, seen as a precursor to the 2019 general elections. BJD candidate Rita Sahu registered a thumping victory over BJP's Ashok Panigrahi in the previously Congress-held seat. The BJP, despite investing a lot of energy in the campaign, failed to capitalise on its gains in the panchayat polls. The Congress stood a distant third.
In January, Patnaik suspended Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda—seen to be close to the BJP—from the party's primary membership for alleged 'anti-party activities in Parliament, state, constituency, and the media. A BJD release at the time said no opportunity was missed by Panda to criticise the BJD and eulogise the opposition [read BJP]".
Odisha will vote to elect both its MLAs and MPs in 2019.
With IANS inputs.