BHUBANESWAR: Ruling BJD in Odisha will maintain equidistance not only from the BJP and Congress but also from any third front in the 2024 general election, a senior leader of the regional party said.
The party’s stand to go solo has been made clear by BJD president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, he said.
The party works for safeguarding the interests of Odisha and the state’s development is its sole agenda, a senior BJD vice-president told PTI.
“Our equi distance yardstick is also applicable for the proposed third front, campaigning for which is being done by Naveen Patnaik’s best friend Nitish Kumar,” he said.
Patnaik had maintained that BJD will go solo in the next Lok Sabha election as it did since breaking its alliance with BJP in 2009 and said the Odisha party has not sought any party’s support to win elections when the state’s 4.5 crore people supporting it, he said.
The BJD supremo, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital on Thursday, had categorically ruled out any role by in the proposed third front. ”No, not as far as I am concerned, not now,” he said to queries.
Patnaik had also held an hour-long meeting with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, with whom he is known to share the best of relationships. They were ministers in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet and the meeting between them took place when Kumar visited Bhubaneswar earlier this week.
Asked to comment on it, the BJD leader said, ”Friendship and politics are altogether different matters and one should not misunderstand it. Both Patnaik and Kumar after their meeting on Tuesday had jointly said that their relationship is very old and there is no scope of politics in their friendship … Being friends with non-BJP leaders or of any other party does not mean that BJD will dilute its purpose and aim. Its aim is to serve and develop Odisha,” he said. Asked why Patnaik met anti-BJP leaders like Kumar and Mamata Banerjee, the BJD vice-president said that there is ”no harm” in meeting people, particularly veteran leaders from Bihar, West Bengal or any other state.
“The party has taken this stand for a long time and meeting with different leaders should not be understood otherwise. The party will go solo in 2024,” he asserted.
The state holds simultaneous Lok Sabha and state elections.
After the meeting with Kumar on Tuesday, Patnaik had said they did not discuss any political matters or even a possible alliance. However, the JD(U) tweet that its leader (Kumar) has been uniting non-BJP leaders had created the impression that Patnaik too joined the proposed third front and led to confusion.
BJD has been at the helm in Odisha since 2000 and maintained a neutral stand on issues involving clashes between BJP and the opposition parties. At times, BJD has supported BJP in Parliament as well. Patnaik has so far met Jagan Reddy and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi Stalin, besides Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee, party sources said Naveen Niwas (Patnaik’s residence) has received letters for one-to-one discussion from some leaders of regional and national parties.
Source: Press Trust of India