Bhubaneshwar: On Friday, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik said it will no longer adhere to its official policy of maintaining “equal distance” from both the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Congress and added that it is ready to support any party that can guarantee to protect Odisha’s interest. Special status for Odisha has been a major poll issue for the BJD as well as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
BJD vice-president and minister S N Patro told reporters that the party will give up its official policy of not siding with the BJP or the Congress and added that the party will support any front which is ready to give special status to Odisha. Patro further added that BJD will play a special role in national politics.
BJD walked out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ahead of the 2009 elections over seat sharing dispute and called the saffron party as “communal”. BJD had a decade long alliance with the BJP and both the parties were in coalition in the state from 2000 to 2009.
Ahead of the election D-Day, all eyes will be on United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s May 23 meeting. According to the sources, while Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav could be the most prominent faces of this meeting, regional heavyweights like Naveen Patnaik and K Chandrashekhar Rao are also being approached.
Congress’ Ahmed Patel has been tasked with reaching out to Patnaik, K. Chandrashekar Rao, and YSRCP president Jagan Mohan Reddy. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised Naveen Patnaik for his effective handling cyclone Fani, which hit the coastal districts on May 3.
"Naveen babu has done good planning. The central government will support and carry forward the initiatives," IANS quoted PM Modi as saying. The PM gave this statement in the presence of the Odisha CM.
After Cyclone Fani, Patnaik had demanded special category status from Centre saying the state is disaster-prone and faces natural calamities almost every year. He also claimed that special category status will help the state to accelerate its growth.