Is BJD all set to join the NDA?

Is ruling Biju Janata Dal(BJD) in Odisha all set to join the BJP led National Democratic Alliance(NDA)? The question is being widely debated and discussed in the political circles in the eastern state following a series of recent developments that brought to the fore the renewed bonhomie between the Naveen Patnaik led regional outfit and the saffron party, both one time strong allies.

 The first sign of fresh closeness between both the parties surfaced when both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, now union home minister too, publicly praised Patnaik on two issues just days after the twin Lok Sabha and assembly elections were over in the state. While Modi appreciated the chief minister’s efforts to handle the cyclone Fani that had ravaged coastal Odisha, Shah had some wonderful words for Patnaik while comparing and criticising West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on the law and order problem.

The Prime Minister and Amit Shah’s change of hearts came as a big surprise to many as just a few days before, during the campaign for the twin polls, both had left no stone unturned to lambast Patnaik. While Modi had asked Patnaik to “pack up and go” as the people in the state wanted a “change”, the BJP president had compared the chef minister with a “burnt electric transformer” which needed to be replaced.

The Modi-Shah duo’s visible fresh move to woo Patnaik was also reciprocated by the chief minister when he supported BJP nominee for Lok Sabha Speaker’s post and also stood solidly behind the Prime Minister in his “one nation-one election” campaign.     

However, the renewed BJP-BJD friendship touched a new high when in an unprecedented move, Patnaik who also was the founder president of the regional outfit, supported a saffron party nominee for one of the three Rajya Sabha vacancies from Odisha though his party had enough strength in the state assembly to capture all the three seats.

Both BJP and BJD acknowledged in public that the chief minister decided to throw his lot behind the saffron candidate, a controversial ex-bureaucrat, after a personal request from the Modi-Shah combine.

The leaders of the regional outfit, nevertheless, ruled out the possibility of the BJD joining the NDA, at least in near future. “We don’t required to join the NDA when we can do what we need to do staying outside the alliance platform”, said a senior BJD leader.                        

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