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BJD on way to dump Left

- Move reminiscent of Biju’s in 1995

Bhubaneswar, March 6: Naveen Patnaik is set to dump both the CPI and the CPM, who were his allies in the 2009 elections.

Though a formal announcement is awaited, Left leaders are going ahead with their plans to contest the coming elections together without the support of the BJD.

Naveen’s move is reminiscent of his father Biju Patnaik’s break up with the communists on the eve of 1995 Assembly elections, which his party, the Janata Dal, lost to the Congress against all expectations.

“We are not going to have any truck with the BJD. Last time, too, they had offered us crumbs, which was almost like ditching us,” said state CPM secretary Janardan Pati.

His CPI counterpart Dibakar Nayak, however, was more cautious in his reaction. “We have not yet been invited for talks by the BJD. If there is no dialogue, we will announce our candidates next week,” he said.

Pati said the two Communist parties would fight the elections together.

“We have discussed broadly about the alliance between ourselves. Our party will announce candidates after its state executive meeting on March 10,” he said.

The CPI leader, on the other hand, said that his party would declare its candidates after March 13. “We have already identified three Lok Sabha and 35 Assembly seats to contest,” he added.

The state BJD leaders appeared non-committal about the alliance with the Left.

“The decision lies solely with our party supremo. He might be in touch with national leaders of the Left parties, but we are not aware of any talks at the state level,” said panchayati raj minister and party vice-president Kalpataru Das.

In the 2009 general elections, the BJD had seat adjustments with the CPI and the CPM following the rupture of its 11-year-old alliance with the BJP.

It had conceded one Lok Sabha seat each to the two Communist parties, apart from nine Assembly seats. While the CPI managed to win the Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seat and the Sanakhemundi Assembly seat in Ganjam, the CPM drew a blank.

The stand of the BJD via-a-vis the Left is significant considering the equidistant policy that the ruling party has been maintaining from the Congress and the BJP since 2009. The prospects of the BJD joining the Third Front had looked brighter after it sent one of its representatives to attend the Left-sponsored rally against communalism at New Delhi in October.

This followed meetings between Naveen and Left stalwarts A.B. Bardhan and Prakash Karat in December and January, respectively, where the chances of a pre-poll alliance at the national level were discussed.

The chief minister’s statement on December 26 at the BJD foundation day function in Bhubaneswar criticising the Congress and the BJP, while the underscoring the need for a secular alternative at the Centre had also fuelled speculation about the emergence of a Left-led Front supported by him.

However, he suddenly appears to have developed cold feet about joining the proposed non-Congress and non-BJP front when he stayed away from their meeting in New Delhi on February 25.

Significantly, though the BJD had conceded Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seat to the CPI in 2009, there have been serious differences between the two parties over the Posco steel plant project in the district.

The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, which has been spearheading the resistance movement, is headed by senior CPI leader Abhay Sahoo. CPI national leaders, including Bardhan, have visited the project site several times.

CPI MP from Jagatsinghpur Bibhu Prasad Tarai said: “Seat sharing with the BJD to keep the Congress and the BJP at bay and opposing the Posco project are two different issues.”