Op-Ed: Who Will The BJD Support At The Centre?

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Major newspapers in state today have carried full page advertisements of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) telling people that Odisha is going to play a major role in the formation of government at the Centre this time.

Asserting that no national party would get a majority at the Centre and regional parties will play a crucial role in government formation the advertisement calls upon people to vote for BJD to ensure that it has an important say in deciding who comes to power in Delhi.

Why has BJD’s focus suddenly shifted from the state to the Centre? Why is the party, which has been telling the world from the rooftops that it maintains equidistance from BJP and the Congress, suddenly so concerned about who forms the government at the Centre?

This is all the more strange because it is now crystal clear that regional parties, irrespective of their strength, are unlikely to rule in Delhi. They are neither likely to get a majority nor do they have a formal front of their own at the moment.

All that they can do then is to align with either NDA or the UPA depending on how they fare at the polls and their ideological positions. There is also another possibility—NDA or UPA backing some regional satrap to rule at the Centre in the event of themselves falling short of majority. This would give them room for backseat driving and spare the country the financial burden of holding another election.

This, however, is a remote possibility as most political observers do not see the electorate throwing up a hung verdict. In fact, going by the current assessment the BJP-led NDA should get a clear, if reduced majority compared to the last time.

What will be BJD’s role in national politics in such a situation? Will chief minister, Naveen Patnaik forget the bitterness generated between him and top BJP leaders by the highly acrimonious election campaign and extend at least tacit support to the NDA government?

One cannot rule out this possibility with Patnaik already having positioned himself in a manner where he cannot be blamed for supporting any national combine. He has made it ample clear that the bottom line for his party is protecting the interests of four crore people of Odisha. Any ruling coalition that assures to take care of that can hope to secure BJD’s support.

That is a clever strategy for a regional party. For one it affords the party a lot of flexibility which is so crucial in the present political scenario with the situation still very fluid. Secondly the party leadership can continue to claim the high moral ground by talking of state’s interests while actually following the principle of expediency.

Flexibility, in fact, has been the key feature of Patnaik’s politics right from the beginning. His nine-year-long honeymoon with the BJP in the state despite complete ideological mismatch itself is a striking example of how he puts political expediency above principles. But that is also the sign of a mature politician.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)