Bhubaneshwar: In a significant development, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), ruling party of Odisha, has altered its political stance of ‘equal distance’ from BJP and Congress. The party revealed that it is ready to support any front that will give special status to the state.
Special status for Odisha is a major poll plank of BJD, which is reeling under the effects of cyclone Fani.
BJD Vice President and Minister S. N. Patro said the party has given up its official policy of not supporting the BJP or the Congress at the Center. He said that the party is committed to back any front that is ready to give special status for Odisha.
Adding to the twist the BJD leader said that his party will play a special role in national politics.
The BJD has not supported any party since 2009 and kept equal distance from both the BJP and Congress. Prior to 2009, the party was in alliance with the BJP for ten long years.
Though, Sonia Gandhi has approached the chief of BJD and Chief Minister of Odisha, Navieen Patnaik, for a grand meeting of opposition leaders on 23 May, no comments have yet come from the BJD supremo.
During cyclone Fani that hit Odisha on 3 May, the leadership of Naveen Patnaik was instrumental in evacuating thousands of people to safer places and to restore normalcy to the coastal regions where destruction was widespread.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had high praises for the Chief Minister’s role during and after the natural calamity. He said, “Naveen babu has done good planning. The Central government will support and carry forward the initiatives.”
Naveen Patnaik demanded special status for his state citing that Odisha was prone to natural calamities every year and is disaster prone. He said that special status could help the state accelerate its growth.
The sudden change of BJD’s political decision has begun wide speculations about Naveen Patnaik’s moves in the coming days.
Odisha held simultaneous elections both to the Lok Sabha and to its state legislature. Fortunately both elections were over by 29 April just before the cyclone Fani hit the state. Many predict that Naveen Patnaik might return to power in the state as head of the government. BJD is in power in Odisha for the past 19 years.
Odisha has a total of 21 seats in the Lok Sabha. Recently, the BJP is making good inroads into Odisha and many political analysts expect that the saffron party will win a fair number of Parliamentary seats in Odisha.