With Orissa Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik showing no signs of relenting from his stand on BJD fighting on bulk of the assembly seats,alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have conceded its initial stance of a 4:3 ratio (BJD:BJP) of seat sharing for the 147 assembly and 21 Lok Sabha seats.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra,who flew to Bhubaneswar on Sunday,had to return disappointed as the BJD chief shot down BJP’s proposal. BJP leaders initially thought that the 4:3 ratio (BJD:BJP) of seat sharing for the seats was a settled issue,but post-Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) polls changed the alliance dynamics with Patnaik clearly indicating that the 11-year-old regional party would not settle for anything less than 100 seats in the assembly election.
BJD,which fought the CMC election alone,swept the polls last month leaving BJP a poor third with only 2 seats. Also,in the December 2007 polls to the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation,BJD had conquered the civic body on its own strength while BJP floundered.
Though senior BJP leaders of the State as well as grassroots’ workers have suggested contesting all alone if BJD insists on fighting 100 seats,well-placed BJP sources said that the party has come around to the view that the alliance must be kept intact at all costs to enable LK Advani to become the Prime Minister.
“The message from Delhi is to keep the alliance intact. Since elections are set to be announced in a couple of days,we don’t have any time on our hand. If Naveen wants 100 seats we have to concede from our quota. The Central leadership does not want to annoy Naveen at this crucial juncture,” said the source.
“We want to continue the alliance. We stand for the alliance for a greater cause — to beat the Congress. They have done injustice and they should be kept out of power. In 1998,when alliance was formed,we wanted to make Vajpayee the Prime Minister. This time we want to make Advaniji the Prime Minister,” BJP state president Suresh Pujari said. “Alliance is necessary and a compulsion for both the parties.”
BJP general secretary in-charge of Orissa,V Satish on Sunday finalised the tentative list of candidates for the 9 Lok Sabha seats which the party would contest. BJP sources indicated that the party may sacrifice Berhampur Parliamentary constituency in favour of BJD as the latter’s organisational strength is better.
Berhampur is currently represented by Chandrasekhar Sahu,Union Minister of state for rural development. Initially,BJP proposed the name of Pruthiraj Harichandan,son of state rural development minister and BJP leader Biswabhushan Harichandan,for the seat. However,he was fiercely opposed by a section of State BJP leaders who argued that a younger Harichandan would not be able to fight the union minister. In return,BJP is likely to get Dhenkanal and Sambalpur Lok Sabha seats for its national secretary Dharmendra Pradhan and State president Suresh Pujari respectively.