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Delhi call to Naveen leaves BJP sulking

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 10: The state BJP is in a tizzy following NDA convener Sharad Yadav’s invitation to BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik to join the alliance’s proposed anti-Centre rally in New Delhi.

The saffron party, being NDA’s main constituent, the move has the state BJP leaders, who parted company with Naveen on a bitter note on the eve of last Assembly elections, on the horns of a dilemma.

More so because of the growing speculation that the invitation might be a godsend for BJD which is passing through a crisis with a string of scams and scandals exploding in its face.

The party is under fire from the Opposition over the Rs 10,000-crore mining scam and the Vedanta University controversy. And the BJP, which was badly mauled in the last elections, is putting its acts together and is in the forefront of the campaign against the chief minister.

Significantly, Naveen has the party examining the proposal. His comments followed his close lieutenant and Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra’s admission that the party had received the invitation on which Naveen would take a call.

However, if the chief minister now agrees to play ball, the rally in Delhi would be the first occasion when BJD and BJP leaders would share a common platform following their break-up last year.

The sense of embarrassment in the state BJP seems acute though the leaders are not willing to talk much at this stage. “There is no question of BJP joining hands with the BJD in the state. I will not speak more on the issue,” said BJP state Jual Oram implying he would not know what the equations of his party with BJD would be at the national level.

Some other BJP leaders said as things stand today they could align with the BJD in the state only if the ruling party split.

“We can join hands only if there is a split in the BJD of which there are enough indications. We supported the BJD yesterday on the Saw Mill Bill. But we continue to oppose them on issues like Vedanta and Posco,” said BJP legislature party leader K.V. Singh Deo clarifying that political equations at the Centre were different.

“See the NCP is an alliance partner of the Congress at the Centre but has joined hands with the BJD in the state. Similar situation may emerge in the context of BJP as well,” he added.

Senior BJP and Viswa Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Sahu said: “It is upto the state leadership to decide whether the alliance in the state would be revived or not. The central leadership cannot decide or impose its decision on the state unit.”

On the other hand, Bijay Mohapatra, who joined the BJP on the eve of last election, said “ We are closely following the developments at the Centre. The BJP here has already taken an anti-BJD stand. Let’s see what the party does at the national level. Yadav’s invitation to Naveen was perhaps necessary for floor co-ordination in the Parliament”

Mohapatra felt that Yadav had not taken the BJP leadership into into confidence before extending the invitation to BJD. “ I don’t feel that he spoke to the BJP leadership over the issue. It was purely for floor-coordination to put the UPA on the mat in the parliament on the corruption cases,” he added.

Senior Congress leaders not willing to be quoted said they were not surprised by the move as BJD needed support at the national level in the wake of a series of scams.

“ In the wake of the mining scam and other corruption cases BJD badly needs support at the national level either from the Congress or the BJP as the third front had failed to consolidate its position,” said a Congress leader.

Leader of opposition, Bhupinder Singh said nothing could be ruled out in politics. “The BJD is going to split. Anything can happen,” he remarked.

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