Naveen meets Farooq

Bhubaneswar: Ahead of the chief ministers meeting on NCTC convened by the Centre, Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik today met union minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah over lunch. Abdullah who arrived here to attend a programme, was invited to Naveen Niwas, the residence of Patnaik for lunch.

Patnaik`s meeting with National Conference president came barely two days after his talks here with Union minister of state for Rural Development and NCP leader Agatha Sangma. Officials here described Patnaik`s meetings with Abdullah and Sangma as courtesy calls. While Patnaik met leaders of two non-Congress and non-BJP leaders in a span of three days, his scheduled meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on April 6 was postponed.

“Chief Minister`s Chennai visit is postponed,” a release issued by the Chief Minister`s Office said. Patnaik was earlier scheduled to go to Chennai tomorrow to attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of Odisha Bhawan there in the presence of Jayalalithaa.

The meeting of non-Congress and non-BJP leaders ahead of Chief Ministers meet on NCTC was significant in view of Patnaik`s February 15 statement that there was need for an alternative alliance to the `discredited and scam-ridden Congress-led UPA and communally tainted` BJP-headed NDA. Abdullah, during a nationwide debate over NCTC had sided with Patnaik and dubbed the Centre`s act of notifying the formation of NCTC without consulting states as a “mistake.”

Patnaik closing rank with NC and NCP, both partners of the Congress led UPA, was viewed politically significant in the backdrop of his move to unite non-Congress and non-BJP parties in the campaign against the NCTC. Ten non-Congress CMs, including West Bengal`s Mamata Banerjee (UPA ally) and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu, had backed Patnaik`s stand, forcing the UPA government to defer functioning of NCTC from March 16.