Patnaik prefers to wait on Nitish’s grand alliance proposal

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today preferred to take time to decide on his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar’s suggestion for formation of a grand alliance of opposition parties to stop the BJP surge.

“I think general elections are too far away to take any such decision,” Patnaik told reporters when asked about Patnaik’s party Biju Janata Dall’s stand on the suggestion.

Kumar had on April 3 stressed on a grand alliance of the opposition parties at the national level to stop the surge of the BJP and had urged the Congress and the Left parties to take the initiative for this.

“The BJP’s victory in Uttar Pradesh was mainly because of the lack of a Bihar-like mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) …

If you add the vote percentage of the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the BSP, it is 10 per cent more than the votes polled by the BJP,” Kumar had said.

The suggestion is being considered more relevant for Odisha as the BJP had already set its target on the ruling BJD and succeeded to an extent in the recently concluded panchayat polls.

The BJP increased its tally to 297 ‘zilla parishad’ seats in 2017 panchayat elections from just 36 seats in 2012 and it has pushed Congress to the third position.

The grand alliance talk in Odisha took place when JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited Bhubaneswar to pay tribute to former Lok Sabha Speaker late Rabi Ray on March 7.

Both of them separately met Patnaik and held discussions on the proposed grand alliance, sources said.

Though Kumar did not say anything, Yadav had said he spoke to Patnaik on the impact of Uttar Pradesh elections result on the national politics during his meeting with him.