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Jaitley & co trip at home

- State BJP opposes, yet central team meets ‘allies’

Bhubaneswar, March 3: The BJP central leadership is finding it hard to reach a decision on stitching alliances with smaller parties due to stiff opposition from state leaders.

The state leaders say that those interested in the BJP should contest on the lotus symbol.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, accompanied by the party’s Odisha-in-charge Chandan Mitra and his deputy, Arun Singh, today held parleys with the state leaders on the issue of forging alliance with regional parties before negotiating with chiefs of smaller parties.

During the close-door meeting, the state leaders opined that before making an alliance with other parties in Odisha, the central leadership should make a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis of its potential allies.

After getting the required feed back, the central leadership met the chief of the regional parties, including Aam Odisha president Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Samata Kranti chief Braja Kishore Tripathy and Utkal Bharat Party head Kharavela Swain. However, Odisha Jan Morcha president Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, who had earlier floated the idea of a greater alliance to defeat the BJD, is yet to meet the BJP leaders.

After meeting the central leaders, Swain said: “There was a talk on how to work under a bigger umbrella such as the NDA. There is a need of an alliance in Odisha. Talks are going on. We will wait for their decision.”

However, the party seems to be in a quandary over the Balasore seat with Swain, who had parted ways with the BJP a few years ago, keen to contest from the constituency. It is going to be a tough call for the party as its associate member and Nilgiri MLA Pratap Sarangi has also evinced interest in the seat.

“We are keen on alliance, but all depends on how seats are shared,” said Samata Kranti Dal leader Braja Kishore Tripathy. On being asked about his meeting with BJP leaders, OJM chief Mohapatra said: “No comments, please.”

The BJP state leaders opposed alliance with Mohapatra as he had gone public without taking them into confidence. They also hold him responsible for breaking the BJD-BJP tie-up in 2009.

While the BJP is facing a dilemma, the Congress leadership today heaved a sigh of relief as leader of the Opposition Bhupinder Singh today denied having switched loyalty to any other party.

“I am a Congress man and will remain so till my death. I don’t know how the talks were going on about my quitting the party,” said Singh.

Singh, who remained incommunicado for the last five days, said he was admitted in a private nursing home for urinary infection.

However, a section of leaders said Singh was upset as he had been asked to resign from Congress Legislature Party (CLP) chief post as the party high command did not like the way he mediated between Congress MLAs and the party’s Rajya Sabha candidate Ranjib Biswal, who won the election.

On the other hand, a section of Congress leaders said the party leadership planned to appoint a tribal MLA as the CLP chief to send the message that the party was in favour of ST and Dalits.

State Congress chief Jaydev Jena said: “Singh has been my friend for the last 35 years. We should not rake up past issue as we want to go ahead.”