New Delhi: The end of the 11-year-old alliance between the BJP and the BJD may prove to be a lot more costly for the saffron party than Naveen Patnaik’s Orissa-oriented regional outfit.
To start with, the BJP move to withdraw support to a government that has already completed its tenure is nothing more than an exercise in futility, according to political analysts.
The step is also not likely to achieve President’s Rule in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls as Patnaik seems all set to win the trust vote in the 147-member assembly on 11 March.
He has garnered the backing of one MLA each from the CPI(M) and CPI, two from the NCP, four from the JMM and seven independents, besides 61 from his own party to cobble together a strength of 76, two more than the requisite number.
While at the national level, the BJD’s snapping ties with BJP is being seen as a blow to L K Advani’s prime ministerial aspirations, at the state level, Patnaik by dumping the saffron party is expected to improve his secular credentials which took a beating after the anti-Christian riots in Khandamal, the analysts feel.
Given that the 2008 Khandamal civic poll results indicated that the BJP had lost popular ground, the BJD’s pulling away seems to be less about seat sharing differences and more about ensuring that it can come to power again with the help of secular allies such as the left, NCP, JMM and others.
At the national level, the snapping of BJP-BJD ties does seem to be a “game changer” — the term that CPI(M)’s Prakash Karat has used to describe the Orissa development. At one go, it may not help BJP’s plans to emerge as leader of the largest combination post-elections, while making the “Third Front” project looks a lot more real than what it seemed earlier, the analysts say.
The BJD’s lurch towards the Left may seem to be an alliance made on the rebound, but it would certainly not have done so if it was not convinced that the costs of a tie-up with the BJP is possibly more than the benefits.
The alliance had yielded rich dividends to both the parties in all the assembly and Lok Sabha elections that the two had fought together in the past, so the break up is certainly not because of some minor differences of one or two seats here or there, they feel.
The Biju Janata Dal was formed on 26 December, 1997 after the demise of Orissa strongman Biju Patnaik in April 1997 and the alliance with the BJP came into being in February 1998 through the efforts of the late Pramod Mahajan, who is surely being missed now by the saffron party.
While the BJD-BJP alliance contested Lok Sabha elections in 1998, 1999 and 2004, they went to assembly polls jointly in 2000 and 2004.
In the 2004 assembly elections, the BJD got 61 seats while BJP won 32, together obtaining a comfortable majority of 93 members in 147-member Orissa Vidhan Sabha.
The story was even better in the 2000 assembly polls when together they bagged 106 seats with BJD winning 68 and the BJP 38.
In Lok Sabha elections too, the alliance has yielded rich dividends for both parties as together they have a won a majority of the 21 seats in the state all three times.
In 2004, BJD got 11 while BJP won in seven constituencies leaving only two seats to the opposition Congress. JMM had won one seat.
The alliance also proved fruitful for both the parties in 1999 Lok Sabha polls when Congress could win only one of the 21 seats.
The analysts say that given this track record, the BJD’s decision to go for a divorce is much more deep rooted than it is willing to admit.