Lok Sabha polls: Odisha BJP chief retracts 'going solo' remark, rushes to Delhi

Manmohan Samal's earlier assertion had come amid talks of a pre-poll alliance between the state's ruling BJD and the BJP

A BJP programme in Keonjhar district, Odisha (photo: @BJP4Odisha/X)
A BJP programme in Keonjhar district, Odisha (photo: @BJP4Odisha/X)


Hours after claiming that the BJP will fight the upcoming elections for the Lok Sabha and Odisha on its own, Odisha BJP president Manmohan Samal on Thursday said the Parliamentary party’s decision in this regard is final.

Samal, who returned to Bhubaneswar on Thursday morning, was asked to rush back to Delhi and attend a meeting of the party’s top brass in the evening, party sources said.

His earlier assertion had come amid talks of a pre-poll alliance between the state's ruling BJD (Biju Janata Dal) and the BJP. On his arrival from the national capital earlier in the day after meeting Union home minister Amit Shah, Samal said, “The BJP will form the government in the state alone with the blessings and cooperation of the people.”

Around two hours later, however, he said, "Whatever our national president or parliamentary party will say, is final. Media shouldn't make a narrative based on my statement.”

Samal also deleted his post on X in which he had claimed that the BJP in Odisha would form a government in the state on its own. Before deleting the post, he told reporters: “The party will fight the elections over Odisha asmita (pride).”

Asked repeatedly about the reported alliance with the BJD, Samal had said: “Had that been the case, I would not have said the BJP would form a government in Odisha.”

Responding to this, BJD MLA Sambit Routray said, "If the BJP does not want an alliance, why was Samal running to Delhi every day? We did not ask him to go there. His actions and bytes to the media have fuelled speculation that there could be an alliance. No BJD leader ever said anything about an alliance.”

Meanwhile, the BJD convened a meeting of senior party leaders at Naveen Niwas, the residence of party president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, on Thursday afternoon. The party had earlier met on 6 March, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Odisha.

BJD vice-president and MLA Debi Prasad Mishra had then acknowledged discussions about a possible alliance with the BJP, and said the party would “prioritise the greater interests of the people of Odisha”.

Later, the possibility of an alliance between the BJD and the BJP brightened after Odisha BJP leaders were summoned to the national capital on the evening of 10 March. They had several rounds of discussions over three days with Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was tasked by the BJP top brass to take the opinion of the party’s state leaders.

Samal, along with organising secretary Manas Mohanty, Odisha election in-charge Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, and his deputy Lata Usendi, had a meeting with Shah at the latter’s residence on Wednesday night.

Sources said the state BJP leaders drew the attention of the party’s top brass to the way the BJD snapped ties with the saffron party and withdrew from the NDA ahead of the 2009 general elections following the Kandhamal riot in 2008. Both parties had a tie-up for 11 years from 1998 to 2009, and jointly fought three Lok Sabha elections and two assembly elections during that period.

Simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the assembly will be held in Odisha this year.

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