Bhubaneswar: Though the context of visit of leaders like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and JDU’s Sharad Yadav to Odisha is something which should not be read too much into, but it is difficult to keep a lid on the whiff of a new political equation when they along with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik come together, even if it is a courtesy visit or a personal one.
Both Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav who visited Odisha today to pay their tributes to former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray, later called on Naveen Patnaik at his residence. However, the duo met him separately.
Considering that Naveen and Nitish have been the members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and are on the same side of the fence after the demonetization move, talks between the two leaders especially after the results of the general elections in 5 states holds a lot of significance. Now with BJD noticeably feeling the discomfort after the recent Panchayat polls in the State has given a clear indication that its numero uno position as a ruling party has been seriously challenged by the BJP, observers do not rule out the possibility that Naveen might take suggestions from Nitish on the ‘maha gathbandhan’ (grand alliance) strategy.
While Nitish has taken anti-Modi stand, Naveen has been highlighting Central-government’s negligence towards Odisha on a host of issues. Experts feel that both of them are on the same dias to counter BJP-threat.
Moreover, with the President’s election scheduled in July, there is more likelihood that both would have shared views and suggestions.
“How could I have left without meeting Naveen Patnaik? We had met in New Delhi few months back. We had some personal discussions,” said Nitish.
Similarly, Sharad Yadav after meeting Naveen Patnaik said he will comment on the ‘Third Front’ when the time is apt, not now.
“We will see what needs to be done after the elections. Today’s meeting was a courtesy call and if anything happens, I will let everyone know,” he added.
Reacting to the meeting, senior Congress leader and former MP, Pradeep Majhi, said “In the coming days there is a likelihood an alliance will come up against the BJP. Nitish has led by example by forging alliances and a grand alliance cannot be ruled out in future.”