Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik received his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. After the meet, both leaders dropped hints of a possible understanding between their parties ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Odisha will hold elections for its legislative Assembly simultaneously with the general elections. Patnaik is eying a record fifth continuous term as CM, but faces strong opposition in the state from BJP and a newly resurgent Congress.
“We have discussed several things, including further friendship among like-minded parties,” Patnaik said in a joint press briefing with KCR.
“It is certain the country needs a change for which dialogue has begun,” KCR said, replying to a question on a possible alliance between the BJD and TRS. “There is a dire need for unity of regional parties. There has to be an alternative to the Congress and the BJP.”
The visiting CM also promised support for the BJD’s push for 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures.
The meeting between the two regional satraps occurred a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s massive rally in Odisha’s Khordha district.
Some senior leaders in the BJD told The Indian Express they are keen to find out if the PM will pull back his criticism of the BJD after losses in Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
“For four and a half years, BJD has supported BJP on issues opposed by every other non-NDA party. We have supported demonetisation, GST, surgical strike, and NRC because we believed they will benefit the country,” a BJD leader said, requesting anonymity. “The BJP cannot afford to lose a friendly party in Odisha, when its Lok Sabha tally is certain to fall in 2019.”