Bhubaneswar: Though BJD vice-president and minister Damodar Rout stood firm by his earlier comments that the party has no hesitation in joining hands with the Congress for the next Assembly polls, his statements have created a flutter within the party.
"We protest the way Congress leaders have neglected Odisha. However, we will support the party that will stand against anybody trying to destroy the secular ideology," said Rout today.
He even added that the rule of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is so strong in Odisha that the party’s tally may reach to 125 seats but there is no chance of it falling below 2014’s tally of 117 seats.
On the other hand, another vice president of the party Surya Narayan Patro reacted saying "No one in our party will be able to swallow the comments of Damodar Rout. If he has said something it is his personal opinion, I have nothing to do with it."
Similarly, party’s Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda had also remarked that it is difficult to accept the possibility of an alliance between the Congress and the BJD. Hinting at Rout’s comments, Panda took to twitter saying “Those of us who assisted in founding the party to undo the gross damage to Odisha by them in ’80s/’90s will find this difficult to swallow.”
BJD spokesperson Amar Satpathy sharing his thoughts on alliance said "Will the present status of Congress in Odisha be in our favour or it will turn out to be a liability is something that will be decided by the party. We have gained public support and have confidence on our strengths and leadership; so there is no need of anyone's support."
Meanwhile, amid speculations that Rout’s comments could have come on instructions of party president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the latter today asserted that the BJD continues to remain equidistant from the BJP and the Congress. "BJD is equidistant from the Congress and the BJP. With blessings of our people, we will continue our fight for the rights of Odisha," tweeted Patnaik.
Congress leader Ramchandra Khuntia however, welcomed the BJD to have a discussion with the party to fight communal forces.
"BJD wants to have a cordial relationship with Congress on national and state level. It can only be decided after receiving a proposal from the BJD high command," he said.
Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Jual Oram said, "As the BJP is gaining momentum in Odisha, the statement of Damodar Rout that alliance with Congress is necessary reveals the actual political picture and he is not afraid to speak the truth."