Patnaik refused to speak to Advani before ending alliance

March 9th, 2009 - 7:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, March 9 (IANS) Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik refused to speak to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani on phone minutes before announcing the end of the 11-month-old alliance between their parties Saturday evening, it was reliably learnt.
Patnaik, head of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), announced the end of the alliance after his over hour-long meeting with BJP MP Chandan Mitra on the issue of seat-sharing failed. The break has dealt a blow to the prime ministerial ambitions of Advani.

A BJP source privy to the meeting said Mitra, who had been deputed by Advani to find a solution to the impasse, was upset from the beginning of the meet when he found Patnaik with an unsmiling face and “unusual behaviour”.

Patnaik even did not offer Mitra, who is also editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, a cup of tea and conveyed to him his decision to part ways. Mitra then spoke to Advani over his cell phone and then wanted to hand it over to Patnaik so that Advani could speak to him in a last-minute attempt to save the alliance, the source said while declining to be named.

But to his disappointment, Patnaik refused to speak, the source said.

After coming out of Patnaik’s home in Bhubaneswar, Mitra appeared visibly upset.

Patnaik had been unhappy since the communal riots last year in parts of the state, especially in Kandhamal district, following the murder of a Hindu religious leader Aug 23.

He was under attack from various quarters for not handling the situation properly. He had also warned the BJP and tried to improve his image. “Every bone in my body is secular,” Patnaik told a television channel in October.

However, the strike call given by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which is linked to the BJP, on the eve of Christmas last year upset all his calculations.

Although he managed to convince the VHP leaders to postpone the strike, it was then that he finally made up his mind to sever ties with the BJP.

“The BJP rank and file and the VHP people were involved in the violence,” senior BJD leader and Orissa minister Suryanarayan Patro told IANS. However, both the BJP and VHP have denied any hand in the largescale violence against Christians in Orissa.

“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.

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