"No More Support To BJP, Only Opposition": Naveen Patnaik After Poll Loss

The BJD's assertions comes after thumping wins by Narendra Modi's BJP in the May-June central and state elections, in which the BJP won 20 of 21 Lok Sabha and 78 of 147 Assembly seats.

'No More Support To BJP, Only Opposition': Naveen Patnaik After Poll Loss

Naveen Patnaik is a former five-time Chief Minister of Odisha (File).


Ex-Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal - which helped ex-ally Bharatiya Janata Party pass key bills in the Modi government's first two terms, when it lacked numbers in the Rajya Sabha - seems to have firmly switched sides now and labelled itself a "strong and vibrant opposition".

"We will make the centre accountable on all issues. BJD MPs will raise all issues pertaining to the state's development and the welfare of the people of Odisha. Many rightful demands haven't been met," the party quoted Mr Patnaik after a meeting with his nine Rajya Sabha MPs in Bhubaneswar Monday.

"(We will) be the voice of 4.5 crore people of Odisha in Parliament..."

The BJD's assertive stance comes not only after providing the BJP outside support on various issues in the past 10 years, but after breakdown in alliance talks in March, just weeks before the elections began.

Had those talks born fruit, the BJD and Mr Modi's party would have re-allied nearly 15 years after a split that prompted late BJP leader Sushma Swaraj to say Mr Patnaik would "regret" snapping ties.

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In the past, support from the BJD and ex-Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy - his YSR Congress was ousted by the BJP's ally, Chandrababu Naidu's TDP - was crucial on several occasions, such as the election of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to the Rajya Sabha in 2009 and 2014.

More recently, the BJD's support also helped the BJP push through the Delhi services bill, ensured a no-confidence motion against the Modi government flopped, and pushed through laws like Triple Talaq and the J&K Reorganisation Bill.

BJD's "Rightful Demands" From BJP

The "rightful demands", the BJD's statement said, ranged from 'special category' status for Odisha to housing and education for the poor, and from establishment of premier medical institutions like All India Institute of Medical Sciences - "... not satellite units" - to improved national highways.

The party also flagged social and economic issues, including the controversial topic of MSP, or minimum support price, for farmers, which has been a bone of contention between the opposition and the BJP since the violent protests of 2021/22. The BJD also said it will "demand inclusion of 162 communities" in the state's Scheduled Tribes list, which it said it had been lobbying for "for many years".

All of this comes after thumping wins by Mr Modi's party in the May-June Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. In the former the BJP routed the BJD by winning 20 of the state's 21 seats and, in the latter, Mr Patnaik - who lost the Kantabanji seat to the BJP's Laxman Bag - won only 51 of 147, down from 112 five years ago. The BJP secured 78 - four over majority - to form its first Odisha government.

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The twin defeats left Mr Patnaik firmly on the backfoot in a state he has dominated since 2000; his BJD had won every Assembly poll and over 50 per cent of Lok Sabha seats in each general election.

In fact, the BJD has failed, for the first time, to win even one Lok Sabha seat.

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The BJD, which had 12 Lok Sabha MPs in 2019, now has only nine in the Rajya Sabha. And that number will be cut in half in 2026, when four Odisha seats - now held by the BJD - fall vacant.

"Will Be Strong Opposition"

Earlier today BJD leader Sasmit Patra said party boss Naveen Patnaik had given "clear instructions to fight for the rights of the state's people in Parliament". "No more support to BJP, only opposition. We may go to any extent to protect the interests of Odisha," he said after Mr Patnaik's meeting.

READ | Will Be "Strong Opposition" For BJP: Naveen Patnaik's Party

In the recent election the BJD was not part of the Congress-led INDIA bloc, which united the opposition to stifle Mr Modi, the BJP, and the party-led National Democratic Alliance.

Mr Patnaik and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - who helped found the INDIA group before jumping ship to the NDA after internal rows - met in May last year but the BJD boss remained non-committal and passed off the meeting as one between "old friends and colleagues".

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