Trusted ally Naveen dumps BJP on poll eve

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Biju Janata Dal ended their 11-year-old alliance on Saturday after failing to reach an agreement on seat sharing for the coming Lok Sabha and assembly polls.....

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneshwar | Published: March 8, 2009 1:38 am

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Biju Janata Dal ended their 11-year-old alliance on Saturday after failing to reach an agreement on seat sharing for the coming Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

Orissa Chief Minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik who met BJP Rajya Sabha MP and L.K. Advani’s emissary Chandan Mitra this evening for a final discussion on seat sharing declared the alliance over. “Unfortunately,seat sharing discussions for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections have failed. We in the BJD concentrated on winnability in our discussions. We wish to continue to serve the people of the State and prevent the opposition parties from taking advantage of the situation and so we would be fighting the elections alone,” Patnaik told the media at his residence after the meeting. On whether the two parties would forge a post-poll alliance,the chief minister was evasive. “All that I can say now is we will go the polls separately,“ he said.

Saturday’s development came as a jolt to the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate L.K. Advani who had hoped to win at least 18 Lok Sabha seats from Orissa. The BJP reacted to Patnaik’s statements saying it was withdrawing support to the government. Mitra said the chief minister should immediately resign since both the BJP and the BJD had fought the last assembly election together. “Naveen has no moral right to continue in power since the two parties had gone into polls together last time,” he said,adding that the party’s central leaders would meet in New Delhi on Sunday to decide on what to do next. The BJD and the BJP fought the Lok Sabha polls together in 1998,1999 and 2004 and assembly polls in 2000 and 2004.

BJP leaders blamed BJD MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra for the talks failing,saying the bureaucrat-turned-politician had persuaded Patnaik to sever ties with BJP. Soon after Patnaik announced the talks had failed,a BJP delegation headed by Legislature Party leader Biswa Bhusan Harichandan headed for the Orissa Raj Bhawan to make a representation for withdrawing support to the government. BJD sources said the party has secured the support of 4 JMM,1 CPI,1 CPM and 1 independent legislator,taking its tally to 75. Patnaik needs 74 seats in the 147 member House to win the floor test. Political observers however said President’s rule in the state was imminent in Orissa.

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