To push its demand for special category status for Odisha, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is planning to join hands with the YSR Congress and the JD (U) in the Parliament and raise their voice unitedly.

“Let us see how it works out in parliament, we are keen to form a bloc of over 100 MPs with as many parties including TRS, DMK and others to present various issues. Individually, the parties concerned do not have the numbers to effectively do so, hence the idea to form a bloc,” said BJD parliamentary party leader Pinaki Mishra.

“It is just an idea at the moment, we have to work and wait till the session starts, they (BJP) are 300 plus,” he added.

The chief ministers of Odisha, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh — Naveen Patnaik of BJD, Nitish Kumar of JD (U) and YS Jaganmohan Reddy of YSR Congress — have been demanding special category status for their respective states.

The BJD, JD (U) and the YSR Congress have a substantial presence in the Lok Sabha with 12, 16 and 22 members respectively. While the JD (U) is part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the BJD and the YSR Congress are not aligned with any bloc.

“Though the idea is in a nascent stage, we are in the favour of making a move with other parties in order to make an impact in Parliament,” BJD Parliamentary Party leader and Puri MP Pinaki Mishra told PTI. Mishra said it is better to raise the demand in a big way in Parliament along with the MPs of both YSR Congress and JD(U).

“Altogether, the three regional parties have 50 MPs in the Lok Sabha and a good number in Rajya Sabha. If we are fighting for a common demand, what is wrong in joining hands and making our voice louder in Parliament?” Mishra asked.

Replying to a question on whether his party has initiated any move to unite the two other like-minded parties in the struggle for the special category status, Mishra said, “Not so far. But there is no harm in making an effort. Let the first session of Parliament begin. We will make a move taking other parties into confidence.”

Mishra also appealed to all the MPs from Odisha, irrespective of their party affiliations, to join hands and demand a special category status for Odisha which has been frequently hit by natural calamities.

Earlier this week, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, while meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had urged him to include natural calamity as an indicator for getting special category status to the state.

Since then, Patnaik has urged Modi to consider Special Focus State status to the calamity-hit states and allow them to get the benefits being availed by the states categorised as the special category states.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been raising the demand for special category status for a long time. He had organised public meetings in support of the demand in Patna and New Delhi in the past too.

The YSR Congress is also seeking special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

(With agency inputs)