BJP Or Congress? Naveen Patnaik On Which Is The Bigger Threat

Naveen Patnaik also says he sees no national party winning a majority and regional parties getting a bigger role to play after the results on May 23.

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Naveen Patnaik also says he sees no national party winning a majority


Bhubaneswar: 

One of India's longest serving chief ministers, Naveen Patnaik, calls the BJP-led NDA a "bigger enemy" than the Congress but no great threat in Odisha, the state he has ruled for over two decades.

He agreed with the allegation of the Congress and other opposition parties that there is a "threat to democracy" under the BJP-led government, in the way institutions were being attacked. Even the tax raids on opposition leaders were "most unfortunate" and appeared to be "politically motivated," he said.

Naveen Patnaik also says he sees no national party winning a majority and regional parties getting a bigger role to play after the results on May 23.

For the first time, the Odisha Chief Minister also spoke about Jay Panda, a former close aide who quit the party and joined the BJP last month. He said Mr Panda had "overriding ambition and was a man in a hurry".

His ambition? "To take my post, what else," Naveen Patnaik said.

Odisha will vote for national as well as assembly polls when elections are held from Thursday across India. It has 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 assembly seats.

"Whoever has the largest majority will find allies, I think," said Naveen Patnaik, adding that he would support "anyone who is for the best advantage of Odisha."

He did not believe that the Balakot airstrikes had given the BJP any big advantage. "I understand that's quite fizzled out now. Now, it's back to normal politics."

Underlining his Biju Janata Dal (BJD)'s policy of equidistance from the Congress and the BJP, he said: "So, we will see, indeed it's doubtful, whether we will join up with either of them."

Reminded that he was part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) not once, but twice, he remarked that it was a long time ago.

He refused to name anyone as a bigger challenge - the BJP or Congress. "I don't treat either of them as enemies, but neither do I treat them as friends." At the moment, he admitted, "NDA is the bigger threat."

In Odisha, however, Mr Patnaik said he did not see the BJP making any significant impact, even though opinion polls suggest a BJP surge in 10-15 seats. "Not in Odisha, I don't see that in Odisha," he said.

About the Congress, he assessed that its chief Rahul Gandhi "still has to struggle a little more".

In the 2014 elections, the BJP had won a single parliamentary seat of 21 in Odisha and 10 of the 147 assembly seats.



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