The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Third front to corner Naveen
- Bijoy Mohapatra talks of liaisons

Bhubaneswar, June 15: Biju Janata Dal under chief minister Naveen Patnaik seems to be invincible at the moment.

As, Congress could not have been more moribund and defunct of ideas. So is this the time for an alternative to both Naveen, now in the seventh year of governance and Congress, looking down and out'

Bijoy Mohapatra, Naveen’s principal bete noire and chief of Orissa Gana Parishad (OGP), says yes.

Mohapatra, who spoke exclusively to The Telegraph, would not like to reveal his cards as yet, but his friends believe that the former Biju Janata Dal strongman would soon join the state unit of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

“The time is ripe for a popular third front. We will be a real alternative to BJD-BJP coalition and Congress, as both have failed the people. The coalition is a failure, while Congress has become a spineless Opposition. We want to occupy the vacant space left by a weak Opposition,” said Mohapatra, who returned from New Delhi yesterday after holding week-long parleys with NCP party chief and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

“This will give a new term to Orissa politics,” he said.

“It’s almost final. Orissa Gana Parishad will soon be merged with the NCP. Other politicians, who were once part of Biju Janata Dal, may also join the NCP,” said Balasore legislator Arun Dey, leader of OGP legislature party in the Assembly.

A plenary session of the OGP will be held in August to adopt a formal resolution for the merger.

Dey said several MLAs and former MLAs will join NCP after the merger.

“Even people from BJD, BJP and Congress are ready to flock to us. Everyone in BJD are feeling suffocated. The situation is no different in BJP and Congress. Ours will be a front close to UPA,” he said.

According to political grapevine, others who are likely to join the “third” front are Janata Dal (S) president Ashok Das, former finance minister and BJD leader Ramakrushna Patnaik, former Union coal minister and current Rajya Sabha member Dilip Ray and Congress MLA Nalinikanta Mohanty.

Ashok Das, who once headed the state unit of Janata Dal during Biju Patnaik’s chief ministership is most favoured to become the president of NCP in state.

Mohapatra, in his interview revealed that during his New Delhi stay he met Pawar, railway minister Lalu Prasad, former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chauthala and senior Left leaders, including Prakash Karat.

“Though all leaders asked us to be with them, we found working with Pawar comfortable. The new alternative will take shape before Naveen calls for a snap poll next year. We will have alliance with Left parties in the election,” he added before signing off.

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