Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed willingness to stitch a post poll alliance with any political party, so long as it is ready to support the demands and work towards the welfare and development of Odisha.
Speaking exclusively to ANI on Sunday, Mr Patnaik, while responding to a question on a possibility of extending support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if they fall short of the requisite majority to form the government, said, "Any party or coalition that supports the development and just claims of Odisha will have our support."
On being asked whether the ideology of the party seeking support from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) would be a deciding factor on a post poll tie-up, Mr Patnaik re-iterated that the key focus would be whether the said party would back the development of Odisha and the welfare of its people.
"Ideology of all parties is democratic but I do want them to support Odisha's claims," he outlined.
"Let's see what the results are, let's see which parties get what numbers," Mr Patnaik said when asked if the BJP's views on national security, external security, secularism, and espousing the Hindutva cause would matter at a time when talks of a post poll alliance crop up.
Responding to reports of a "backdoor understanding" between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Patnaik, while refuting the same, said the BJD is equidistant from the BJP and Congress.
Mr Patnaik, who is the longest-serving chief minister of Odisha, also revealed that he has no "national ambitions" while reaffirming his allegiance to the development of the state.
"My interest is to stay here (in Odisha) and see through the development and welfare of the state. I have no national ambitions," he said when asked why he chooses to distance himself from national politics.
Mr Patnaik also said that reports of anti-incumbency were not true. "In every election, our numbers are increasing, not decreasing," he added.
Odisha is witnessing simultaneous polls for both Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies.
In the ongoing polls, Mr Patnaik will contest from two seats in the state, namely Hinjili and Bijepur.
In the 2014 elections, Mr Patnaik's BJD had won 117 out of the 147 assembly seats in the state, while the BJP and Congress settled for 10 and 16 seats, respectively.