Come election and political price of the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is rising up with almost all national parties vying for his support. Starting from rightist BJP to leftist CPI and CPM and centrist Congress all are talking about alliance with his BJD.
First it was union minister Shashi Tharoor who said that Congress will have no objection in taking Patnaik into UPA fold as his BJD is a secular party. It was in October 2013. While on a visit to Odisha for a literary festival he said that Congress door is always open for Naveen. ‘‘Naveen leads a secular party with which the Congress has no basic fundamental difference,” he said.
Then CPI leader AB Bardhan met Patnaik at his home in December 2013 and discussed about the Third Front. After this meeting BJD vice president and the revenue minister of Odisha Suryanarayan Patro said that both CPI and CPM are requesting Naveen to lead the Third Front.
Two weeks ago BJP president Rajnath Singh visited the state and when journalists asked his opinion on the huge mines scam happened during the Patnaik regime, he said the centre was responsible.
When some journalists asked about BJP-BJD alliance after the election he said the question is hypothetical. He did not deny the possibility.
Naveen’s latest support seeker was CPM general secretary Prakash Karat who met him on January 29. The next day, he said at a press conference that they discussed about national politics and alliance with BJD. ‘‘I met Naveen Patnaik yesterday evening to discuss the national political scenario. Our party is trying to have an electoral understanding with non-Congress secular parties. So, we hope to have an understanding with the BJD in Odisha too,’’ said Karat.
All these talks have inflated the value of Naveen Patnaik in national politics. Though he was in NDA for a long 11 years and is now in understating with CPI and CPM, the Congress party high command has not lost hope of his support. Congress feels he will play a crucial role after the general elections. Though Patnaik never left any occasion to criticise the Congress, he has never uttered a word against Sonia or Rahul. He maintains a personal friendship with Gandhis.