‘BJD-BJP ties in Orissa had begun to sour’

March 8th, 2009 - 5:08 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jatindra Dash
Bhubaneswar, March 8 (IANS) The snapping of ties between the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after more than a decade in Orissa was in the offing for some time, say BJD partymen.

Though failure to arrive at a conclusion over seat sharing for the coming Lok Sabha and assembly elections was described as the main reason for the split of the coalition, political analyst Prasanta Patnaik said the fate was known much before.

Many BJD leaders were not happy since the communal riots last year in parts of the state, especially in Kandhamal district, following the murder of a Hindu leader Aug 23, Patnaik told IANS.

“The BJP rank and file and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) people were involved in the violence,” senior BJD leader and Orissa minister Suryanarayan Patro told IANS.

The alliance broke after talks between both the parties over the seat sharing in the state remained inconclusive. The state goes to polls in two phases on April 16 and 23.

“We tolerated them to the maximum and still wanted to continue, but the BJP was demanding more seats though its popularity has eroded in many parts of the state,” Patro said.

At least 38 people were killed and more than 25,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes in Kandhamal, some 200 km from here, after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs following the killing of a Hindu leader in the region last year.

The BJP and VHP have denied their role in the violence. Hindu leader Subash Chouhan said it was the spontaneous reaction of the people.

But analysts feel the global outrage the state government faced over the violence prompted the BJD to review its ties with the nationalist party.

Since the violence, many BJD leaders had come out in the open to voice their disapproval of their ally.

BJD senior leader and MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra has said at several public meetings in the past that the party has the capacity to fight the elections alone and form the government in Orissa on its own strength.

A major factor that led to the collapse of the coalition is BJD winning in the civic polls that were held in some areas after the communal violence.

Both the parties fought the civic polls against each other, and the BJP lost in many of the seats which it had held.

The BJD was victorious in many areas including in the cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar which were earlier considered BJP strongholds.

The dismal performance of the BJP in the civic polls prompted the BJD to snap ties, analysts say.

The BJP, on the other hand, argued that the civic polls would have no bearing on the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

Another factor for the failure of the coalition is the confusing political scenario in the country, say political analysts.

The BJD and BJP jointly fought the Lok Sabha polls in 1998, 1999 and 2004 and the assembly elections of 2000 and 2004.

In both assembly polls, the BJD contested 84 seats and BJP 63. In the general elections, the BJD contested 12 seats and BJP nine.

The trouble started when the BJD said it wanted to contest at least 25 more assembly seats and two more Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 polls as its popularity had increased.

The BJP leaders termed the demand as unreasonable.

After the collapse of the coalition, the BJP has announced that it will withdraw support to the government and demanded President’s rule in the state.

“Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has no moral right to continue as chief minister therefore he should resign,” state BJP President Suresh Pujari told IANS.

However, BJD general secretary Damodar Rout said his party has the numbers to remain in power. Rout said his party has the support of several non-Congress and non-BJP members including members of Left parties and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

Meanwhile, the Left parties and JMM have announced that they will “save the BJD government”.

“There will be no problem to prove majority. We have got the support of JMM, Left parties and several other MLAs,” BJD spokesman Damodar Rout told reporters.

The BJD, which has 61 members, requires 13 more MLAs for majority in the house of 147. The party claims it has the support of at least 14 MLAs.

The CPI-M and CPI have one member each in the assembly and both have said they will support the government.

The JMM, which has four MLAs, has also said it will support the BJD in case of a floor test, JMM legislature party leader Bimal Lochan Das said.

The BJP has 32 members in the assembly.

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