As the 2014 polls draw near, the two principal political parties in the State, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Congress, are looking to widen their reach by considering alliances with smaller political parties.
The decision of the Congress to have an alliance with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in Jharkhand has paved the way for similar tie-up in Odisha. Political observers are of the opinion that with the BJD not inclined to have any truck with the JMM, the Congress remains the only option in Odisha for the latter.
Senior Congress leaders in the State also maintained that talks are on between the two parties for electoral understanding. The Congress is trying to have seat adjustment with the JMM for the Assembly as well as the Lok Sabha polls. “Talks are going on and a decision will be taken soon in this regard,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Jaydev Jena said.
The BJD has decided not to have any political links with the JMM. “The BJD will have no links with the JMM as the party wants the division of Odisha for establishing an independent Jharkhand State,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das said.
“We do not need the assistance of JMM to win elections in Mayurbhanj district as BJD has a strong base among the tribals,” Das said. After days of deliberations, the Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) on Friday formally announced their alliance, paving the way for lifting of President’s rule and formation of coalition government, likely to be headed by JMM leader Hemant Soren, in Jharkhand.
The two parties also decided to extend their alliance beyond Jharkhand to West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. RJD chief Lalu Prasad had already assured his party’s support to them.
However, several senior State Congress leaders have questioned the decision of seat adjustment with the JMM. They have expressed doubt whether such an arrangement will have any electoral benefit for the party which is trying to return to power after 14 years in the Opposition in Odisha.
Of the nine Assembly seats in Mayurbhanj district, the BJD had won seven in 2009 Assembly elections while the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had won one each. The JMM had drawn a blank. The lone NCP member from the district has joined the BJD. The BJD had won the Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat in 2009 polls.