BJD in dilemma over vice-president

BJD in dilemma over vice-president

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha has not been able to decide yet on its stand in the coming elections for the post of vice-president.

That the regional outfit is in a dilemma over the issue was clearly visible when party president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik reiterated to the media just before leaving for New Delhi on Friday that his party had not yet decided whom to support in the vice-presidential election.

“The consultations within the party are still on”, Patnaik said. The chief minister is expected to hold discussions on the issue with his party MPs, a majority of whom are still in Delhi after participating in the presidential poll. He has already held a preliminary discussion on the matter with his senior party colleagues here.

If highly placed BJD sources are to be believed, some senior party leaders are in favour of the regional outfit supporting Jaswant Singh, the BJP veteran and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee for the post of the vice-president.

“Our original plan to have a third anti-Congress and anti-BJP front at the Centre is not coming through. We have to keep our presence felt at the national level. We cannot support United Progressive Alliance nominee Hamid Ansari as the Congress is our principal opposition party in the state.

Therefore, at the moment, we do not have a better alternative than extending our support to NDA and BJP nominee Jaswant Singh. We have already done business with the BJP. Don’t forget, we were once part of the NDA,” said a senior BJD leader who did not want to be quoted at this juncture.

Another section of the regional outfit vehemently opposes the idea. According to them, the party will further harm its secular credentials if it supports the BJP-backed NDA nominee for the vice-presidential poll.

“We have already dented our secular image by standing in the same platform as the BJP during the just-concluded presidential election. It would be further damaged if we decide to extend our support to the NDA nominee,” said another senior leader of the regional outfit. Due to the contradictory viewpoints within the party, observers do not rule out the possibility of Patnaik deciding to remain absent during the voting for the vice-president’s post.

The BJP, on its part, is reported to have already appealed to its former ally in Odisha to support the NDA nominee on the ground that it (BJP) had extended its support to P A Sangma during the presidential election.

The BJD was first to propose Sangma’s name for the post of the president. It had appealed to all non-Congress political parties, including the BJP, to support the former Lok Sabha Speaker’s candidature.  

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