Amid a suggestion for forming a "Federal Front" of regional parties, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said it would be a "healthy thing" to happen for the country and rejected the perception that the experiment of a third front would not be successful.
Patnaik, the BJD President who had severed ties with BJP in 2009 just ahead of last elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly, made it clear that his party will maintain equi-distance from both BJP and Congress.
"I think it will be a healthy thing for the country to have a Federal Front or a Third Front," he told PTI in an interview here.
He was asked about the suggestion made by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that regional parties should get together to form a 'Federal Front' to provide an alternative to Congress and BJP.
Asked when such a formation could take shape and whether efforts were already being made in this regard, he merely said "I think its early days yet".
When pointed out that Lok Sabha elections as well as the state assembly in Odisha polls are not too far away, Patnaik said "let us see. Things move quite quickly when the elections (approach).
Asked who possibly could be the leader of a third front, the BJD chief said "I think it's too early to say, the future will tell." He, however, ruled himself out as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate.
The BJD chief rejected the perception that a third front can have no future in India.
"It has not happened as yet. But, as I said, if it does, it will be a healthy thing to happen," he said about the contention of Congress and BJP that third front cannot work.
He did not rule out the possibility of associating with TMC, Samajwadi Party and AIADMK to build a third alternative.
Queried whether Left parties could be in that formation, he said "we have to see".
Patnaik was also asked about internal problems of BJP, BJD's erstwhile ally, as also projection of Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial face of BJP.
"These are internal matters of BJP", he said.
On Modi, he said the Gujarat Chief Minister is "certainly popular" in his state "but I don't think (his popularity) will spread to other parts of the country. That's what I think."
The Odisha Chief Minister also refused to give any credit to Modi for development in Gujarat, saying the state has prospered because of its people and not one individual.
"Much of Gujarat's prosperity is because of the people of Gujarat. They are progressive," he added.
He attacked the UPA government, saying it was "discriminatory" towards states not ruled by Congress or its allies.
In this context, he referred to Odisha's long-standing demand for special category status and said it was being "denied" because of "political considerations".
He questioned why Odisha was not being given such a status if the Centre is planning to do so in respect of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
"I have no objection to any part of India getting benefits but these political considerations with which benefits are going to Bihar, UP, Bengal, it is not correct.
Odisha's just demand should be fulfilled and we struggled for that," he emphasised.