An unstable political alliance in Orissa

Since the twin polls in which the BJD had a landslide victory, the regional outfit and its two friendly left parties had differed on several issues. A case in point was the recent Bharat bundh organised by the non-Congress and non-BJP parties to protest the UPA government’s failure to control the price rise of essential commodities.

Though all three parties joined the bundh, their leaders spoke in different voices on the quantum of the strike on bundh eve. While senior BJD leaders insisted that passenger bus and train services will be halted for only two hours to reduce the hardship of the common commuters, the leaders of the left parties announced that the bundh will be observed totally and services like public transport will not be allowed to run for full 12 hours.

The differences had cropped up despite the three parties holding a co-ordination committee meeting on the eve of the bundh to make the strike a grand success in Orissa.
Interestingly, on the bundh day, the BJD president and the chief minister Naveen Patnaik as well as many of his ministerial colleagues were seen attending their offices in the state secretariat like a regular working day.

After the bundh, the BJD leadership, however, defended Patnaik’s move saying that he attended the office as the chief minister and not as the BJD president.

Patnaik’s move certainly embarrassed the left leaders who wanted a ‘total bundh’ while providing an excellent opportunity to opposition parties like the Congress and the BJP to ridicule the ruling regional outfit on its seriousness to observe the bundh.

Industrialisation

The BJD government’s decision to continue with its policy on industrialisation, to invite big industrial houses to the state to set up their industries to be precise, has become another bone of contention between the ruling regional outfit and its two left friends.

Despite sharing the same platform with the BJD during the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the two left parties have never hesitated to embarrass the Patnaik-led regional outfit by openly supporting the groups and organisations spearheading the local people’s agitation against mega industrial projects at different places.

An example is the proposed steel project of the South Koran major Posco in the Jagatsinghpur district. Left leaders have been attending public meetings organised by the anti-Posco activists on regular intervals where speaker after speaker launch scathing attacks against the BJD government in general and Naveen Patnaik in particular for backing the mega steel plant.

The BJD, it seems, not at all bothered about the activities of the two left parties as it enjoys a very comfortable majority in the state assembly. However, the fissure in the left-BJD relationship which comes to the fore from time to time has certainly become a major source of discomfort for those leaders within the regional outfit who had fought hard to snap the party’s longtime partnership with the BJP and cement a fresh relationship with the CPI-CPM combine.

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