The Congress party suffered a setback of sorts on Wednesday when Biju Janata Dal (BJD) of Naveen Patnaik declared that his party will not join the proposed Grand Alliance of anti-BJP parties in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls.
Patnaik said that his party will continue to oppose both the BJP and Congress.
“BJD will not be part of the Mahagathabandhan. The party will continue to remain equidistant from both BJP and Congress,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
Patnaik’s remark comes in the backdrop of Congress trying to stitch together an alliance of all anti-BJP parties to upset the ruling dispensation in the general elections slated for April-May.
The talks of Grand Alliance under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi gained momentum after BJP’s defeat in three states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the assembly elections last month.
Earlier, TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao had met Patnaik in Bhubaneshwar and held constructive talks on forging a Front barring Congress and BJP.
Patnaik who was in Delhi yesterday to participate in a farmers’ rally demanding adequate MSP, had earlier said that he wanted more time to decide on joining the Mahagathbandhan. Patnaik has so far maintained equidistance from both the BJP and Congress.
He had skipped the swearing-in ceremony of HD Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka despite getting an invitation. The event saw all top opposition leaders including Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav sharing the stage with Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.
The BJD had supported the BJP when then Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind was declared the Presidential nominee. However, it had opposed the government when triple talaq bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
The BJD has dominance in Odisha. The party is in power since March 2000 under Patnaik’s leadership. In the 2014 elections, the BJD had won 20 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats.