The BJP’s discussion with Naveen Patnaik’s adviser-turned-bête noire Pyari Mohan Mohapatra for a grand anti-BJD alliance broke down early this week after the former BJD strongman did not meet senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, but backed by a Modi wave partymen in the state are upbeat about a much better performance than they did in 2009.
In the 2009 polls, BJP had failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat and won only six Assembly seats.
Jaitley, who arrived here on March 3 for a final discussion with Mohapatra and three other regional parties including former BJP MP Kharavela Swain, was told by the party leaders that any alliance with Mohapatra would demoralise party workers and would be a ‘suicidal step’.
What made the alliance with Mohapatra’s Odisha Jana Morcha difficult was the latter’s insistence on contesting in at least 70 of the 147 seats in the Assembly polls scheduled to be held along with Lok Sabha polls in April.
Although the BJP state unit was initially firm against aligning with Mohapatra, who was responsible for dumping BJP ahead of the 2009 polls from the BJD-BJP alliance, central BJP leaders hoped that Mohapatra can be used to exploit the inherent weaknesses in BJD. “As Mohapatra knows BJD inside out, he would have given BJP some ideas who to give ticket in Assembly and Lok Sabha seats to maximise the winning chances. But the fact is everyone in BJP hates Mohapatra for breaking the alliance and no one is going to forgive him,” said a state BJP leader.
The party also failed to have any alliance with Kharavela Swain’s Utkal Bharat, former minister Braja Tripathy’s Samata Kranti Dal and former Congressman Soumya Ranjan Patnaik’s Ama Odisha. Party sources said Swain, Tripathy and Patnaik were asked to merge their party with BJP and fight under lotus symbol which they refused.
BJP leaders said despite the reverses in the 2012 panchayat polls and last year’s civic polls, they are upbeat about a swing in their fortunes. “We have done a few internal surveys by independent agencies which shows we can win in 4-5 Lok Sabha seats. In Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency, the surveys said our voteshare is not going under 30 per cent,” said former state president and party’s Sambalpur candidate Suresh Pujari. To maximise its winning chances, BJP has organised a rally by Narendra Modi on March 14 in Sambalpur. BJP sources said the party is enthused with the huge support it is getting in its “one note, one vote” door-to-door campaign in western Orissa and coastal Orissa districts.
Apart from Sambalpur, the party is betting big on Sundargarh Lok Sabha seats which is now held by former CM and senior Congressman Hemananda Biswal. Former union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram would be BJP’s candidate from Sundargarh.
BJD ties up with JMM
Worried about the diminishing popularity of its sitting MLAs in tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj and Sundargarh districts, the Biju Janata Dal Friday decided to go for seat-sharing arrangements with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha during next month’s Assembly and Lok Sabha poll.
JMM’s state unit chief Sudam Marandi, who held discussions with CM Naveen Patnaik over last few days, said more discussions would take place to thrash out seat sharing details. “BJD will have seat-sharing arrangements with JMM in the forthcoming general elections. I am sure that both the parties will do well jointly in Mayurbhanj and Sundergarh districts,” said Naveen. BJD hopes to add Sundargarh to its Lok Sabha tally.
Marandi, who lost to former BJD minister and current Rajya Sabha MP Sarojini Hembram from Bangiriposi Assembly constituency in 2009, said his party decided to have an alliance with the ruling party to help the growth and development of the backward Mayurbhanj and Sundargarh districts. ENS