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No more support to BJP, only Opposition: Patnaik | A brief history of BJP, BJD relations

After the BJP dislodged him from his position as chief minister after a period of 24 years, Patnaik is now out for blood and will likely look for opportunities to attack the saffron party both in the state and national levels.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 11:50 IST

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BJD president Naveen Patnaik held a meeting with his party's nine Rajya Sabha MPs on Monday and asked them to emerge as a "vibrant and strong" opposition in the Upper House of Parliament during its upcoming session that would begin on June 27.

At the meeting, Patnaik also asked the lawmakers to raise issues concerning the state's interests in a befitting manner.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the party's leader in Rajya Sabha Sasmit Patra said, "The BJD MPs this time will not be confined to speaking on issues only, but are determined to agitate if the BJP-led government at the Centre ignores Odisha's interest."

Besides raising the demand for special status to Odisha, the BJD MPs will raise the issues of poor mobile connectivity and low density of bank branches in the state, he said.

After the BJP dislodged him from his position as chief minister after a period of 24 years, Patnaik is now out for blood and will likely look for opportunities to attack the saffron party both in the state and national levels.

In this context, let us take a look at the history of the relationship between these friends-turned-foes.:

The Biju Janata Dal came into being in 1997 after the death of Biju Patnaik, the father of Naveen Patnaik and a former chief minister of Odisha.

Biju Patnaik was a member of the Janata Dal and had served two terms as CM of the JD government.

When he passed away, Patnaik was a Member of Parliament and his son Naveen fought the byelections (also with a JD ticket) to take over his father's seat in the Lok Sabha.

By this time, the Janata Dal was breaking up into regional factions helmed by leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ajit Singh, Devi Lal, and others.

In a similar vein, a number of top leaders of JD's Odisha unit also wanted to form a regional party of their own. After going around the Patnaik family, they zeroed in on the youngest son of the former chief minister—Naveen.

During this time, the Atal Behari Vajpayee disposition was out for an ally in Odisha, and at the behest of the former PM, Pramod Mahajan went to the eastern state to woo the president of the newly formed Biju Janata Dal.

Mahajan succeeded, and Patnaik joined the NDA government as a Cabinet Minister of Steel and Mines.

Allies in state

After this came the 2000 Assembly elections where the BJP and BJD entered into an alliance and ousted the Congress from power.

The reign of Patnaik's first government ended abruptly after he decided to dissolve the Assembly in 2004. The two parties joined hands again and contested the elections as the NDA. BJD ended up winning 61 seats while BJP in 32 constituencies. This bonhomie continued in the Lok Sabha elections as well, with BJP winning 7 and BJD winning 11 seats out of the 21 seats from the state.

The 2009 elections however saw a different picture. The two allies parted ways for the 2009 elections because of seat-sharing issues and the 2009 Kandhamal riots. This did not stop Patnaik's victory chariot as he came back with a stronger mandate, bagging 103 out of the 147 assembly seats in the state. BJP's seat share went down by 11.

The Lok Sabha elections were no different, with BJD bagging 14 out of the total 21 seats and BJP not being able to send a single MP from the state to the Lower House of the Parliament.

In 2014, despite the strong Modi wave across the country, Patnaik was able to come back to power with more seats, winning 117 Assembly seats. The Lok Sabha elections saw were even better for the BJD, who nearly clean-sweeped the state, winning 20 out of the 21 seats.

The BJP's fortunes turned for the better in the 2019 LS elections, where they bagged eight seats and the BJD won 12. The Assembly results were positive for the BJD, bringing Naveen Patnaik to power for the fifth consecutive time with a strong mandate of 112 seats, with the BJP winning merely 23.

The tides of fortune moved from Patnaik's favour to the BJP in 2024. Anti-incumbency and the BJP's strong push in the state, with PM Modi visiting it on several occasions during his countrywide campaigns, helped the saffron party dislodge India's second-longest serving CM from power.

Another issue that had hampered Patnaik's image is the BJP's constant attacks against him and close aide V K Pandian. The BJP had also accused Pandian of controlling affairs from behind the scenes. He was also accused of siphoning off money from the revered Jagannath temple in Puri.

With Patnaik in the Opposition for the first time, it remains to be seen how well he manages to motivate his cadre when not in power.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published 26 June 2024, 11:50 IST

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