Pradeep Pattanayak

That Union Minister Ramdas Athawale’s appeal to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to join the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has created ripples in the political circle in the State. 

At a time when TDP, Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and recently Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) snapped their tie with the NDA, the Union Minister’s proposal to Naveen is said to have assumed immense importance. 

If the Biju Janata Dal (BJD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition is seen as a possible outcome of the changing political scenario, there are reasons as well. Naveen has been extending his support to the central government since 2019. In the recently concluded President and Vice President elections, the Naveen-led BJD also supported both the candidates of the NDA. 

And, the cordial relationship between the central leaders of the Saffron party and BJD is also an open secret. 

BJD leader Surath Biswal said he doesn’t think there is a valid base in the Union Minister’s appeal to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. “What he said can’t be said as the decision of the NDA or the leaders of BJP. People have a reason to make out such a thing of his statement as the BJD in past provided supports to the central government before being asked,” said Biswal. 

BJD MLA Debi Prasad Mishra said, “I think what the Union Minister said is just a slip of tongue. However, it hinges on the decision of the party supremo Naveen Patnaik.”

On the other hand, Congress said the conch party has a fear for ED and CBI which is why it has been supporting the central government. 

“The BJD government has been supporting the NDA or BJP. These two governments are just like two sides of a coin,” observed Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja. 

With Bihar CM Nitish Kumar snapping the tie with the NDA, the latter’s size has squeezed. Considering the present situation, it is quite evident that the BJP may have to depend on the BJD or Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress. 

On the other hand, JD (U) MP Harivansh Narayan Singh is the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha. As Nitish has got himself separated from the NDA, the post may be offered to either the BJD or the YSR Congress. 

Notably, the offer was earlier made to Prasanna Acharya which was turned down by the BJD. If such an offer is made to the BJD once again, it is to be seen what would be the decision of the conch party. 

“The present situation has forced the NDA to search for a new party. And the Chief Minister has been supporting the NDA in many important issues. Given the backdrop, it can be said that the Union Minister’s statement is indicating a new political direction,” observed senior journalist Prasanna Mohanty.