- Naveen Patnaik's BJD pulled out from the BJP led-NDA in 2009
- Naveen Patnaik has been Odisha's Chief Minister for the last 17 years
- The BJP lost nearly 200 seats in the zila parishad elections in the state
"It's around 1/3rd in the Zila Parishad. In the wards, etc they did much worse. I don't see this as a great triumph of the BJP. They have taken over Congress pockets," Mr Patnaik told NDTV today about the performance of the BJP which is came in a surprising number two in the zila parishad elections across the state, behind Mr Patnaik's BJD, which has ruled Odisha for the last 17 years straight. The BJD lost nearly 200 seats.
BJP chief Amit Shah has made it clear that after the Gujarat elections late this year, his eyes are set on winning Odisha and the BJP is holding its two-day national convention this weekend in capital Bhubaneshwar, as it bulks up its cadre in the state ahead of the assembly elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah will attend along with other top leaders.
Mr Patnaik dismissed with a smile a recent spat on Twitter between two senior leaders of his party after one, Jay Panda, wrote a newspaper editorial critical of the BJD and its boss. Mr Panda had noted that "other parties are gaining ground because of their dynamic new leadership," prompting his party colleague Tathagat Sathpaty to allege that the BJP was colluding with "one MP" to split the BJD.
The BJD was once a BJP ally and even after Mr Patnaik pulled out his party from the National Democratic Alliance in 2009, it has largely served as a friendly party since the BJP came back to power at the Centre in 2014, supporting the government on key legislation. But Mr Patnaik would not comment today on whether the BJD will support the BJP's choice of nominee for President later this year. "Let's see who the candidate for the present presidential election will be and we will then make our judgement.," he said.
He accused the Modi government of being quite negligent towards Odisha, much like the previous Congress-led regime of Dr Manmohan Singh, he said. "They have cut off funds for very important programs which the center used to finance. Also, in very important river issues such as Mahanadi and Polavram issue, they haven't been very supportive," he complained.