The bonhomie between the BJP and the Biju Janata Dal ( BJD) has further cemented with clear indications of the regional party backing the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Though a final announcement of the BJD’s stand on the Bill is awaited, reliable sources said “BJD’s support is a certain”, adding that till date Naveen Patnaik’s party has supported all bills in parliament including the equally controversial ones like the amendment to the RTI Act.

The BJD is mulling over how to put up a reasonable defence for its support to the CAB without in any way affecting the ‘secular image’ of CM Naveen Patnaik.

Why should we oppose the Citizenship ( Amendment ) Bill when Odisha is not going to be affected and has no stakes in it, said a BJD MP while another underlined the fact that the party has been lending support to the centre and the centre has been reciprocating in terms of sanction of funds like over Rs 5000 crore for cyclone assistance etc.

Safeguarding the interests of the state and keeping a distance from the Congress is the political line for us, said BJD circles who did not want to be quoted pending clearance from party supremo Naveen Patnaik.

But party insiders have confided that the BJP has been reaching out to smaller parties seeking support for the CAB as it is worried that some of its allies like Nitish Kumar are not on board as yet.

The Opposition parties led by Congress are also garnering support to block the bill in the Rajya Sabha, said a BJD MP before adding that the BJP seems to have the numbers.

In Odisha, illegal immigrants are found largely in Kendrapara, Nawarngpur, and Malkangiri districts and most of them are from Bangladesh. They had been served with Quit India notice several years ago during the Vajpayee led government at the centre but had managed to stay.

Similarly, illegal immigrants have moved into pockets of state capital Bhubaneswar in slums close to the railway tracks.

In terms of vote bank politics, they are not a major factor except for one or two assembly segments of Kendrapara and Nawrangpur.

The BJP central leadership has turned soft and is no longer talking of ‘booking all those involved in mining and chit fund scams in Odisha’. Their oft-repeated charge of a ‘non-Odia’ officer in the CMO running the show has also been dropped and in fact vanished from the lexicon of BJP leaders like Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, national vice-president Baijayant Panda, and others.

Evidently, the PM and the CM are working together as far as Odisha matters are concerned and the rest in the BJP have been asked to keep mum despite the party’s rise, for the first time ever, to the status of the main opposition in the state having dislodged Congress from that slot.