Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday ruled out his party, the BJD, being part of the proposed grand alliance of opposition parties.
In fact, the anti-BJP parties, who have been talking of a grand alliance, have all along considered the BJD as a “pro-BJP” party. The regional party of Odisha had never ever joined any united opposition move be it in the parliament or outside.
The BJD had, on the contrary, sided with the BJP on many occasions in the parliament. It may be recalled that the party was in the NDA from 2000 to 2009 and Naveen Patnaik was, for a brief period, a union minister in the Vajpayee government.
But, in recent months, with elections around the corner, the CM has often been critical of the Modi-led central government.
Speculations are that the BJD will, in a post-election scenario, support the NDA. Political circles here say that the BJD, TMC, and TRS may support NDA after the elections with certain conditions on the PM nominee as they would prefer either Rajnath Singh or Nitin Gadkari over Narendra Modi.
TRS leader and Telangana CM K Chandrasekar Rao had met Naveen Patnaik and Mamata Banerjee recently in his efforts to forge a Federal Front.
Amidst all such talk, the CM on Wednesday said the BJD is not part of the Mahagathbandan.
The BJD will continue to remain “equidistant” from the BJP and the Congress, he said.
The Opposition Congress was quick to allege that “equidistance” is a euphemism for “opportunistic politics”. For all practical purposes, the BJD is already with the BJP, charged the Congress.
Patnaik also ruled out the speculations of another cabinet reshuffle ahead of the general and assembly polls. “There is no thought on ministry reshuffle,” he added.
There were speculations that the CM may fill up the three ministerial berths that are lying vacant and also drop at least three senior cabinet ministers.
He scotched all such speculations on Wednesday.