Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: There goes a popular saying politics is the art of possible. And Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik quite majestically played it up on the political stage here when after fighting a gruelling duel to protect his turf from Modi Tsunami as recently as May 2019, he yesterday made a trademark political somersault to support a BJP nominee for the Rajya Sabha (RS) seat from Odisha.

This so, when the BJD has the bench strength to make a clean sweep of all the three RS seats which have fallen vacant post three BJD RS MPs having resigned after getting elected to Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha.

Remember  how acrimonious was the BJD - BJP split in 2009. Even, during the polls 2019, Naveen had termed Modi-led BJP more dangerous.

However, as a crafty politician Naveen had left open a window of engagement when in the same interview he steadfastly said we will support a group at the Centre, that is best suited to the interests of  the State.

From tussle to supporting BJP RS nominee, the BJD-BJP political engagement marked the coming up of a full circle in the relationship of two friend-turned-foes. Political observers see it as a sort of political engagement with BJP, just short of a political marriage.

New BJP under formidable Modi-Shah duo believe more in political engagement, and same applied to CM Naveen. Afterall, marriage demands sacrifices; whereas 'engagement' thrives on good give-and-take camaraderie.

Political engagements are open ended, whereas political marriage is a close-ended one.

The saffron party's immediate task is boosting its bench strength in RS, as the 2024 elections are far away now. And Naveen's engagement policy is to draw maximum financial support for his populist schemes from the Centre. With dozens of populist schemes, financing the mammoth expenditure is the headache for the ruling BJD dispensation.

With Naveen giving an unflinching support to BJP's RS pick former bureaucrat Ashwini Vaishnaw, it seems now the BJP's turn. And a deal has already been done and dusted.

The ruling NDA will support a BJD nominee for the post of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker in the upcoming week. Though after meeting PM Modi, CM Patnaik denied of having any word over Deputy Speaker post, even a top BJD source confirmed that LS deputy Speaker post is coming BJD way.

Earlier, ruling BJP had informally offered the post of Dy Speaker to AP CM Jagan Mohan's YSRCP. Though both parties refuted of any such talk on any post, a recent address by Jagan Mohan to his party MPs subtly tells the tale.

Jagan observed that our motto is securing 'Special Category State' for Andhra Pradesh, as promised on Parliament floor during bifurcation of the State. More significant is his Statement that towards our goal, there is no need as of now to have an alliance with BJP, nor do we have any confrontation with the BJP. "YSRCP is not having a friendly relationship with BJP, but a healthy relationship," Jagan opined.

Political observers clearly read the unsaid statement of AP CM Jagan Mohan Reddy.

Given the parliamentary convention of the post of Dy Speaker being given to someone from the opposition ranks,  BJD with 12 MPs is the fifth largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha. And as BJP is keen on giving the post of Dy Speaker to a friendly party, BJD fits the BJP’s scheme of things.

Profile of Ashwini Vaishnaw: Ironically, known as a bureaucrat having domain expertise on urban infrastructure, Vaishnaw now symbolises strengthening the 'engagement' infra of BJP-BJD.

Known for his statement during his stint as Balasore DM, when he likened the 1999 super cyclone devastation as Kalinga War -II, the 1994 Odisha cadre IAS started his career as DM of Cuttack and had risen up the ladder to become the Deputy Secretary in PMO in 2003, when AB Vajpayee was PM.

Termed as a smart bureaucrat, Vaishnaw during his IAS tenure had completed an MBA course from prestigious Wharton School of Business, Pennsylvania.

Recently, he was vice-president at Locomotive & Urban Infrastructure, Siemens.

However, the controversy part is TaraDutta Committee formed by CM Patnaik on illegal DQ house allotment mentioned his name.