Odisha: Have BJP-BJD seat-sharing talks failed?

Odisha BJP has hinted at contesting Lok Sabha, assembly polls alone

naveen patnaik modi (File) Naveen Patnaik with Narendra Modi

Speculations around a possible alliance between the BJP and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, have ended for now, after state president of the saffron party confirmed it will go alone in the polls.

When asked about the possibilities of a pre-poll alliance between the two parties, Manmohan Samal, who along with other senior leaders of the party returned to Bhubaneswar from Delhi on Friday evening, said, "There was no talk on alliance and we (BJP) will go to polls alone.

"We had gone to Delhi to hold discussions with the central leaders on our preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the state. No talks on alliance or seat-sharing with any party were held during the meeting."

However, there were reports that there were talks over a pre-poll alliance but they failed after the BJP and BJD failed to agree on the seat-sharing. BJD leaders V.K. Pandian and Pranab Prakash Das had gone to Delhi in a chartered flight on Thursday evening to, reportedly, discuss pre-poll alliance with BJP central leaders. But they, too, returned to Bhubaneswar later and have been silent regarding the outcome of the discussions.

The Odisha BJP has said it may field candidates in all the 147 assembly and 21 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state.

Reports say that the BJD wanted to contest from over 100 seats in the 147-member Odisha assembly, but the BJP was against it. In the outgoing assembly, the BJD has 114 members and, initially, it demanded 112 seats during talks with the BJP.

"The BJD is demanding about 75 per cent of the assembly seats which is not acceptable to us," a senior BJP leader told PTI.

The BJP, on the other hand, sought 14 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha which has been rejected by the BJD. In the 2019 general elections, the BJD had won 12 seats while the BJP won eight.

Odisha BJP leaders led by Samal stayed in Delhi for three days and held marathon meetings with several central leaders at the residence of state election in-charge and Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Pal Singh Tomar.

Two days ago, former Union minister and BJP MP Jual Oram, after attending a meeting at Tomar's residence, had said there was discussion on the alliance with BJD, but nothing was finalised.

Though a section of Odisha BJP leaders are opposed to the alliance with BJD, the situation, however, changed a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state on March 5 following which the alliance talks dominated state politics.

A look at the past

Both the parties were in alliance for around 11 years between 1998 and 2009 and fought three Lok Sabha and two assembly elections together.

When Janata Dal was split in 1998, Patnaik formed his own party and joined the Vajpayee-led BJP government, as the steel and mines minister.

The two parties fought assembly polls together for the first time in 2000 and again in 2004.

Earlier, the seat sharing ratio between BJD and BJP was 4:3. While BJD contested 84 assembly and 12 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP fought in 63 assembly and 9 Lok Sabha seats.

The alliance won 17 of 21 seats in the 1998 general elections with a 48.7 per cent vote share. The alliance again bettered their tally to 19 seats in 1999, which slightly came down to 18 in 2004.

(With PTI inputs)

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