BJP Stalls Alliance Talks with BJD in Odisha

New Delhi : Discussions with the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) led by Naveen Patnaik’s party have encountered a stalemate, indicating the likelihood of both parties contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in Odisha independently. Despite negotiations held in Delhi, a resolution concerning critical constituencies, notably Bhubaneswar and Puri, remains elusive, resulting in an impasse.

Upon their return to Bhubaneswar, BJP state president Manmohan Samal, alongside other senior leaders, hinted at the possibility of the BJP fielding candidates across all 147 assembly and 21 Lok Sabha constituencies in Odisha. Samal clarified that discussions in Delhi were exclusively centered on election preparedness, devoid of any discourse on forging alliances or seat-sharing arrangements.

Sources reveal that stumbling blocks arose primarily due to disagreements over seat-sharing ratios during alliance talks.

The apparent breakdown in negotiations has triggered speculation, particularly in light of the historical backdrop of the BJD’s withdrawal from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) 15 years ago. The discord underscores the complexity of forging alliances in the contemporary political landscape.

Seat distribution emerged as a pivotal point of contention during discussions. While an initial consensus on a pre-election alliance was reached, disparities arose regarding seat allocations. The BJD aspired to contest over 100 seats in the 147-member Odisha Assembly, a proposition that failed to garner acceptance from the BJP.

Conversely, the BJP sought 14 out of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, a demand rebuffed by the BJD. The deadlock persisted, with both parties steadfast in their respective positions. The divergent perspectives underscore the intricate negotiations inherent in coalition politics.

The landscape of alliance talks witnessed a shift following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the state, with differing opinions emerging within the Odisha BJP leadership regarding the feasibility of an alliance. While some factions reportedly endorse the notion of alliance, others, including Samal, advocate for independent electoral participation.

In light of these developments, Samal and other party officials convened for further deliberations in Bhubaneswar. Meanwhile, BJD representatives, VK Pandian and Pranab Prakash Das, who engaged in discussions with BJP central leaders in Delhi, have returned to the state capital.

This impasse marks a significant juncture in the political trajectory of Odisha, as it reflects the evolving dynamics and strategic calculations of political actors. Both parties previously shared an alliance for approximately 11 years between 1998 and 2009, contesting multiple elections together. However, the current scenario underscores the challenges inherent in sustaining political alliances amidst shifting dynamics and diverging interests.

Shruti Suman

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