Naveen Patnaik at his residence in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, May 14: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today set at rest speculation about the BJD’s possible return to the NDA and said his party had taken no such decision.
“No such decision has been taken. There is no thought of any alliance at the moment. There have been no talks,” the chief minister told reporters soon after arriving here from Delhi at the end of a five-day trip.
Naveen dismissed the statement of his party colleague Pravat Tripathy, who yesterday said the BJD could extend support to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
“Keeping in view the opinion of the whole country and the state’s interest, there should be no problem in providing conditional support to the NDA to form government at the Centre,” Tripathy had told a local news channel.
Some other BJD leaders are also said to be in favour of joining the NDA. But, Naveen was categorical that the party was not thinking on these lines yet.
Asked about the statement of Tripathy, the chief minister said: “I don’t know about it, but there are no such thoughts. Our policy has been equal distance from the Congress and the BJP.”
He also dismissed speculation about his party going along with the Third Front.
“We have no such thoughts,” he quipped. On when would the party make its stand clear on the issue of alliances, he said the wait would be over shortly.
“You don’t have to wait long,” said Naveen.
The likely stand of Naveen vis-à-vis the next government at the Centre has been a subject of intense speculation with most exit polls indicating that the BJD would retain its hold over the state, but its erstwhile ally, the BJP, would make major gains and may well replace the Congress as the main Opposition here.
The CNN-IBN exit poll showed that the BJD, which had won 103 Assembly seats (which later rose to 108) in the state with 38.86 per cent votes in 2009, would garner 44 per cent of the votes this time.
In comparison, the Congress, which had won 27 seats with a vote percentage of 29.10, would be sliding down significantly with just 16 per cent of the total votes polled this time.
The biggest gainer, however, would be the BJP, which was practically decimated in the state in 2009, when it could manage just six seats with a vote percentage of 15.05. This time round, according to the CNN-IBN exit polls, the party’s vote per cent would climb up to 25, thus making it the principal Opposition party in the state.
As far as the Lok Sabha elections are concerned, the CNN-IBN exit poll gives the BJD 12-16 Lok Sabha seats, while projecting the BJP as the major gainer with 3-7 seats. That would be a significant leap considering that the saffron outfit was unable to open its account in the last Lok Sabha elections, a fallout of the collapse of its 11-year-old alliance with the BJD, which had won 14 Lok Sabha seats in 2009.