10 May 2018
Bhubaneswar: In an era of coalition politics ‘gathbandhan’ has become a dharma for political parties across the board in India. Does the same thumbrule apply for the Biju Janata Dal also? Assuming the regional party’s winning streaks during the past two decades, the most naive political observer can propound – coalition is no compulsion for the BJD.
A latest development, stands as a testimony to the aforementioned contention. BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik was invited by his Telengana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao for the state's flagship ‘Rythu Bandhu Scheme’ launch on Thursday.
KCR had also invited important regional leaders from different states to grace the launch. The satraps were most likely to discuss the possibility of a third front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress.
However, neither Naveen, nor any representative of the Odisha Government or the BJD were in attendance at the Telengana event. Asked about skipping the event, BJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Pratap Keshari Deb said that the CMO received a comminique on the event and there is not much about the Third Front in it. Besides, justifying BJD’s absence with ‘busy schedules’ of the leaders.
A senior political analyst said, with 20 Members in the Lok Sabha, BJD is the fifth largest party in the lower house of the Parliament, and one of the strongest contenders to lead a “possible” third front, after Trinamool Congress. “This apart, the manner in which Naveen’s charisma has kept the ‘Modi wave’ at bay, only strengthens his disposition in National politics,” he added.
Sparsely vocal, Naveen during his rare tête-à-tête’s has maintained BJD’s ‘equidistant’ policy from the Congress and the BJP. However, the Odisha CM has often signalled his interest in a ‘third front,’
Naveen has always kept options open for the idea of a non-BJP, non-Congress Government at the Centre. “We will see to that (regional parties’ alliance) after the results.” Naveen dismissed claims of being in touch with any regional leaders about a prospective alliance.
On the other hand, if sources are to be believed, the Telengana CM has a packed schedule with his earnest efforts for laying the foundation of a ‘Third Front.’ Chandrashekar Rao will meet Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala during his New Delhi tour after Karnataka poll results.
Earlier, the TRS chief had met several party leaders including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, DMK leaders M Stalin and Kanimozhi, JMM leader Hemanth Soren, JDS leader HD Dewe Gowda and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav.
With the 2019 General Elections looming up, and at least a dozen regional parties prodding their anti-BJP/anti-Congress ‘ideals,’ the third front cannot be confined to a hypothesis. If BJD is a part of this, can the party thrust Odisha's interests at better and will Naveen be the focal leader of the proposed grand alliance, remains to be seen.