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Why Does BJD Support BJP Rajya Sabha Candidate Ashwini Baishnab?


22 June 2019

Snigdha Chandan Das


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Bhubaneswar: Despite its reiterated stand of equidistance from both BJP and Congress as well as the saffron party being BJD’s arch political bête noire as evident from the recently concluded general elections, BJD has announced its full support for BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidate Ashwini Baishnab and his win has been assured now.

Given by the strength of MLAs (112) in the present Assembly, it is also a foregone conclusion that BJD could have easily got its three Rajya Sabha candidates elected like last year because BJP, though being the main opposition party, has only 23 MLAs.

Such a queer development since the announcement made by BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has made tongues wagging and all are now agog to know about the warranted cause behind BJD’s politically paradigm shift exhibited by the regional satrap.

Senior journalist and political pundit Rabi Das opined, “After a massive mandate in favour of BJP at the Centre, Naveen Patnaik’s viewpoint has changed. He wishes now a constructive cooperation with the Centre.”

He added, “Secondly, the companies with whom he (Ashwini Baishnab) has got close link, they are all having close link with Odisha also. I don’t want to reveal their names. However, there is also the corporate link behind the reason.”   

“By announcing BJD’s support to BJP’s candidate, Naveen Patnaik sent a message that he doesn’t want to tango with Centre and rather needs cooperation with it. Also, the corporate link with which both BJD and BJP have good rapport. The decision has been taken to please both the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister,” the senior scribe remarked.

Another senior journalist and political analyst Prabhukalyan Mohapatra opined, “The latest development implies and the people of Odisha could well realize now that a holy nexus is there between the two parties (BJD and BJP). BJD could have sent all three candidates to the Rajya Sabha, but sacrificed in favour of BJP.”

“Last time there were 20 MPs of BJD. This time only 12-13 MPs. Thus, his (Naveen Patnaik) clout has lessened. But, the Centre’s support is required to remain hassle-free in the State’s power. The Centre’s financial support is required. Hence, this political development is meant for keeping a cordial relation with the Prime Minister,” the senior scribe remarked.

On the contrary, senior BJD MLA Prafulla Samal defended, “Our Chief Minister is the highest authority of our party. It’s his prerogative to choose and field the candidate. Most often there are various compulsions and needs. Keeping in view those matters, he has nominated and supported eligible candidates.”

“The Chief Minister has kept the request of the Prime Minister. It doesn’t mean that BJD will accept whatever BJP wants,” the senior BJD leader quipped.

Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das defended, “Whatever decision the Chief Minister takes, it is all meant for the sake of serving the interests of the people of Odisha. Hence, the decision taken by the Chief Minister is welcome.”    

Sources revealed that Ashwini Baishnab was Odisha cadre IAS officer. He had been Cuttack Collector. After leaving Odisha on central deputation, he had been the personal secretary of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Quitting the IAS post, he has been serving the corporate sector for the last few years. He is also linked with an Odisha-based prominent corporate firm and various other companies. He has a very good rapport with BJP’s central leadership.

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Rabi Das, Senior Journalist

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Prabhukalyan Mohapatra, Senior Journalist

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Prafulla Samal, Senior BJD Leader

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Naba Kishore Das, Minister, Health, Odisha