The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have entered the final round of their seat-sharing talks for the April Assembly elections and the Lok Sabha polls. BJP interlocutor Chandan Mitra has arrived to Bhubaneswar to finalise the arrangement with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Rajya Sabha MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra.
On Friday,Mitra was closeted with state BJP leaders including BJP president Suresh Pujari and its national secretary Dharmendra Pradhan to come to finalise the saffron party’s demands. Mitra will meet also meet Naveen and Pyari Mohapatra later in the day for thrashing out the nitty-gritties of the seat-sharing arrangement,Pujari said.
Though the BJD and BJP fought the 2004 Assembly election on an 84:63 ratio,the regional party is insistent on contesting at least 100 of the 147 Assembly constituencies. While state party leaders have met each other several times over the seat-sharing arrangement,the talks have been deadlocked with both the partners refusing to budge from their position. BJD leaders have been arguing that the BJP should be “practical” and be content with a maximum of 47 seats,as its winnability has gone down after a string of electoral defeats.
However,BJP leaders have rejected the idea of the party getting only 47 seats in the Assembly polls. “If that happens,our party would cease to be a relevant partner in the coalition. If the party wins 20 seats of the 47 it contests,BJD would hardly be dependent upon us,” a senior BJP leader said.
“No one should write us off. Despite what BJD says,it cannot win without our votes. We have at least 20 per cent votes. Alliance is a necessity as well compulsion for both BJD and BJP,” said Pujari.
BJP sources said that a middle-of-the road solution may be worked out tonight. By that arrangement,the BJD may climb down from its demand of 100 seats to 97 seats.
During today’s talks,the seat-sharing ration for Lok Sabha polls may also change with the BJP getting 10 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats instead of its earlier share of nine. BJP leaders said the party wants Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency,which was earlier held by BJD. “After the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati,there is a sympathy wave for Sangh in the district. The party will try to encash on the good work done by Saraswati there,” BJP sources said.