BJD supported Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2019 & Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
BHUBANESWAR: Being in the ruling dispensation is a double-edged sword and a tricky position. It seems that Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is getting a feel of it.
As the BJP-led NDA government wants support from parties other than its constituents on important issues and passing of bills in the Rajya Sabha where it does not have the numbers, the BJD always comes to its rescue.
The BJD’s growing coziness with its arch rival BJP has not only baffled its own rank and file but also political analysts who are finding it hard to unravel the mystery.
The two arch rivals had been trading acrimonious charges against each other since 2009. However, the BJD announced its support to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s contentious Goods and Services Bill in 2015.
The next support for the NDA came in 2016 when the regional party wholeheartedly supported the demonetisation initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The relationship blossomed further. In 2017, the BJD extended support to the NDA’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind. On July 20, 2018, the BJD walked out during the vote on the Opposition-moved no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government in the Lok Sabha.
Continuing its renewed love, the BJD on August 8, 2018, supported the candidature of National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) Harivansh Narayan Singh for the post of Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson.
As the 2019 general elections and Odisha Assembly polls approached, there was a brief hiatus in the growing bond of togetherness. Leaders of the two parties were blunt while taking on each other on the campaign grounds.
BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who in the past had dubbed BJP a “communal force”, observed that PM Modi was “unfit” to retain the post for the second term and predicted a hung Lok Sabha due to the “falling” popularity of the NDA government. BJD leaders also launched no-holds-barred attack on the Modi government over discontinuance of certain Central schemes and on the issues of Mahanadi water dispute with Chhattisgarh and Polavaram dam project as well as Centre’s reluctance to grant Special Category State status to Odisha.
The BJP brigade led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah paid back in the same coin.
PM Modi, apparently angered over killing of some BJP workers, announced at public meeting in Kendrapara that Naveen Patnaik would be shown the door in the polls and the BJP would form the new government in the state. The hardest condemnation came from Amit Shah who equated the Odisha CM with a “fused or burnt electric transformer” unable to transfer the high-voltage pro-people schemes of the Union government in the state and exhorted the Odisha voters to replace the transformer by voting for the BJP.
Proving wrong the analysts who thought that political animosity would reach heightened peaks post the polls, both the parties have once again found themselves as “trusted and most reliable” friends.
Leaders of both the parties are no longer trading charges; they have silenced their guns and started embracing each other in full public view. People in the whole state were confused when the BJD on June 22 surrendered its own Rajya Sabha candidate Ashiwni Vaishnav to the BJP as the latter’s official candidate.
The bonhomie continued with greater degrees. The BJD extended crucial supports to the NDA in passing the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2019, Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 which is famously known as Triple Talaq Bill.
The BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have tried to justify their budding relationship with regional forces who often fire salvos at them. The common refrain of the BJP leaders is: “We believe in cooperative federalism. And, our relationship with regional governments who are politically opposed to us should be seen in that light.”
The BJD, on the other hand, clarified that it supported the BJP on many issues in the greater interest of the state.
“We have extended support on certain issues as we felt such cooperation was in the interest of the state. It does not mean, we will keep silent when the interest of the state is sacrificed,” said BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb.
Political analysts, however, are not in a mood to buy the words of the BJP and BJP that they are coming closer to each other to uphold the spirit of cooperative federalism and they find something behind the development.
“There is something behind the BJD’s support on crucial issues to its bitter enemy BJP. Since some important BJD leaders face criminal charges in chit fund scam, mining scam and other irregularities, the party is buying peace with the BJP by extending support to it on different issues. BJD’s support to the BJP is a political compulsion,” said political commentator Prasanna Mohanty.