Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Modi And Patnaik Heap Praise On Each Other; A Hint At Pre-Election Pact?

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Modi And Patnaik Heap Praise On Each Other; A Hint At Pre-Election Pact?

Despite the aggressive stance taken by state BJP leaders towards Naveen Patnaik and his party, the central leadership has opted for a more soft approach.

Vinay MishraUpdated: Friday, February 09, 2024, 11:27 AM IST
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FP | Twitter, PMO

With the Lok Sabha elections approaching, the mutual praise between Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sparked speculation about whether the BJP and BJD will join forces to contest in Odisha.

During PM Modi's visit to Odisha last week, he and CM Patnaik not only displayed rare bonhomie during an event at IIM Sambalpur, but also went a step further as PM Modi called Patnaik his "Mitra" (Friend). In response, Naveen expressed admiration for Modi's leadership in advancing India's economy.

Despite the aggressive stance taken by state BJP leaders towards Naveen Patnaik and his party, the central leadership has opted for a more soft approach.

PM Modi is avoiding publicly criticising Patnaik during his rallies.

Speculation about a possible alliance intensified further after VK Pandian, a close associate of Patnaik, discussed the rapport between the former chief minister of Gujarat and the current Odisha chief minister.

In an interview with the news agency ANI, VK Pandian stated that despite being electoral rivals, Patnaik and Modi have maintained a friendly relationship since 2011, driven by shared values such as respect for the people's mandate and commitment to federal principles.

It's notable that the Congress has persistently claimed that Naveen Patnaik's BJD and the BJP have formed a partnership.

Recently, during Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra passing through Odisha, a Congress leader accused the BJD of supporting the BJP in Parliament and alleged that, at the BJP's behest, the BJD was targeting the Congress. Speaking at a public rally in Rourkela, Odisha, Rahul Gandhi claimed that Patnaik has consistently supported the BJP, asserting that it is the Congress fighting alone against the "Biju Janata Dal [BJD] and BJP partnership" in Odisha.

In 2023, Naveen Patnaik announced that the BJD would not forge any alliances for the 2024 general elections, emphasising that it would contest the Lok Sabha polls independently, as it has consistently done in the past.

Despite an invitation from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to join the Opposition-led INDIA bloc last year, Patnaik, known for his anti-Congress stance, declined the offer.

Since taking office in 2000, Patnaik has led Odisha, and his BJD has maintained a neutral stance in the conflicts between the ruling BJP and the Opposition. On some occasions, it has even supported the BJP in Parliament.

It remains to be seen in the coming days whether the BJP and BJD will formally announce a tie-up or engage in a friendly competition against the Congress Party.

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