BJD open to support Congress or BJP, junks equal distance policy

Ahead of the counting of votes on May 23, Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal said it will no more adhere to its policy of maintaining “equal distance” from both the BJP and the Congress.

“We will not adopt the equal distance (from BJP and Congress) policy any more. The BJD will support any front which supports Odisha,” BJD vice-president and minister S N Patro told reporters.

The regional party, which had a decade long alliance with the BJP, had severed ties with the saffron party ahead of the 2009 elections over a dispute on seat sharing. A BJD-BJP coalition government existed in Odisha from 2000 to 2009.

After severing ties with BJP, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had dubbed the saffron party as “communal” and the Congress as “corrupt”. “Even Patnaik in the midst of election campaign this time, also continued his impression on BJP and also called it as “communal”.

However, Patnaik has meanwhile made his party’s stand clear that the BJD will support any front, may be led by BJP or the Congress, which protects Odisha’s interest. The regional party has been demanding special category status for Odisha and this was a major poll issue for the regional party this time also.

Patnaik also kept the BJD’s door open for the proposed third front which may stake claim for govenment formation after results were counted on May 23.

The BJD president, meanwhile, has received praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and also an invitation from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, party sources said.