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On NDA, Naveen, Jaya play safe: ‘Let’s wait for results’
With just a day left for the Lok Sabha election results, two former alliance partners of the BJP — the BJD and AIADMK — chose to remain non-committal on backing the NDA to form a government at the Centre.
Both BJD president and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said they would wait for the results and address other issues only after that.
When asked if he would support the NDA in return for the grant of a special status to Orissa, Patnaik told reporters in Delhi: “No talks at all…. We have not discussed anything…. We will see in the future.”
When a reporter suggested that it could perhaps be the best choice for him, he said, “I don’t know about that, but I want to state clearly no thought (has been given) and no decision has been taken about any alliance.” The BJD, he said, had followed a policy of keeping equidistant from both BJP and Congress.
Later, after reaching Bhubaneswar, he denied reports that he was in discussion with BJP leaders about a post-poll alliance. This came a day after his party’s chief whip told a TV channel that the BJD was keeping its options open. “Keeping in view the opinion of the whole country and the state’s interest, there should be no problem in providing conditional support to NDA to form government at the Centre,” BJD’s chief whip Pravat Tripathy told the channel.
But BJD MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda said there has been no discussion on this matter in the party as yet. “Let the results come out on May 16. Only then we would take a decision,” he told The Indian Express.
But other party leaders said the BJD chief whip’s interview to the TV channel was a deliberate strategy to test the waters. “We are not much worried about getting half-way mark in the 147-member Assembly. But the CM is worried about possible entry of leaders like BJP’s Bijoy Mohapatra and Dilip Ray to the Assembly. These leaders would make every effort to unsettle Naveen,” said the senior BJD leader. “If he thinks he can keep them at bay by having an alliance with BJP, he would definitely do that.”
On her part, Jayalalithaa maintained in Chennai that she would await the poll results. She told reporters, “I am eagerly waiting for results like any other citizen…. At this juncture, I have nothing more to say… I will make my comment after results are announced.”