Naveen steers clear of Oppn unity; Cong says it's to keep agencies out

Whenever there is a move to form a Third Front or a common political platform of non-BJP or non-Congress parties, leaders start searching for Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik

IANS Bhubaneswar
Naveen Patnaik, Odisha CM

Photo: Twitter @Naveen_odisha

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Whenever there is a move to form a Third Front or a common political platform of non-BJP or non-Congress parties, leaders start searching for Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik, whose party has a very strong base in Odisha and has been ruling the state since 2000.



Ahead of the 2014 and 2019 general elections, there were moves for the formation of a Third Front. However, the BJD chose to skip the meetings.

Now, when the Lok Sabha polls are nearing, again there are moves by several regional and non-BJP and non-Congress parties to form a common platform to take on the BJP-led central government. This time too, Naveen Patnaik has chosen to maintain the status quo by keeping away from such initiatives.

Patnaik has not shown much interest in involving himself in national politics either. His regional party always says its focus is on Odisha and its people.

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Recently Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee held discussions with Patnaik. Though the leaders have said that they did not discuss anything political or an alliance, there is a buzz in political circles that both Mamata and Nitish Kumar were here to seek the support of Patnaik in forming the Third Front.

However, soon after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Patnaik announced that he is not going to join the Third Front. As he has been maintaining the principle of equidistance from both the BJP and the Congress, the BJD will fight the next elections alone, he said.

Following the break-up of the BJD-BJP coalition government in 2009, Naveen Patnaik has been maintaining equal distance from both the BJP and the Congress. Besides, he has maintained good relations with the CMs of different states like Nitish Kumar and Mamata Banerjee.

During the UPA-II and the Modi government, the BJD has maintained equal distance from both the Congress and the BJP and also the Third Front or other common political forces.

This clever move of the Odisha Chief Minister has helped him in maintaining a good reputation before the central leadership of the BJP.

In Odisha, the BJD has been fighting with the BJP and the Congress as its political opponents. Earlier the Congress was the principal opposition party, now it is the BJP. It has been observed that Patnaik and his party BJD leaders always confined their attack to the Odisha BJP or Congress leaders. Sometimes, they counter or criticize the Union ministers.

Senior BJD vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra said the BJD is maintaining equal distance from the BJP and the Congress for the benefit of Odisha. "We are providing issue-based support to the Centre keeping the interest of Odisha in mind," Mishra said.

Commenting on the BJD's decision to stay out of the proposed Third Front, Congress leader Taraprasad Bahinipati said Patnaik had taken this decision so that the central probe agencies such as the CBI, ED and IT do not become active in Odisha. "If he joins the Third Front, the CBI and the ED will start raiding BJD leaders," he claimed.

According to local political observer Prasanna Mohanty, Naveen Patnaik's equidistance policy means equal friendship with the BJP and the Congress so that no one will treat him as a political enemy.

Now, all eyes are on what impact the decision of the BJD will have on Odisha politics as only a few months are left for the next Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.



(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 14 2023 | 8:54 AM IST

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