A tightrope walk for Biju Janata Dal?
While the no-trust motion could be taken up this week, political pundits would surely be keeping an eye on how BJD maneuvers the sensitive matter that has left the entire nation outraged.
Not that the ‘ayes’ and ‘nays’ would matter given the heavily-stacked numbers in favour of BJP but the Biju Janata Dal’s policy of equidistance will be closely watched when the no-trust motion on the Manipur issue is brought up for discussion and vote in the Lok Sabha.
With Speaker Om Birla admitting the motion, a political line has been drawn between the NDA and the united Opposition’s INDIA forum. While the motion could be taken up this week, political pundits would surely be keeping an eye on how BJD maneuvers the sensitive matter that has left the entire nation outraged.
While it continues to profess equidistance from both BJP and Congress, matters of national interest have always got BJD’s vote of confidence in favour of the saffron party. In the past, the BJD has sided with the BJP on more occasions than one. Key legislations like abrogation of Article 370, Citizenship (Amendments) Act, triple talaq, RTI act amendment as well as the farm sector bills saw the regional party throw its weight behind the Narendra Modi-led government.
This is even when BJP remains its political enemy no 1 in the state. Such is Naveen Patnaik’s ability to maintain the fine balance between national and state affairs that it can be a study of nuanced realpolitik.
In fact, the BJD supremo enjoys excellent rapport with most of the top leaders of the regional outfits that came onboard the Opposition alliance but his party has maintained a safe distance from the anti-BJP front. Naveen met his counterparts - West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar - when the regional leaders came calling and sought support earlier this year but have stayed clear of what eventually went on to be the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).
Still, the no-trust motion over Manipur issue may require the regional party to reconfigure its strategy because of two reasons. One, the ethnic conflict as well as the violence against women is of extremely sensitive nature and the BJD would like to keep the narrative right since women happen to be its major constituent. Two, the Opposition wants to weaponise the matter against Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has left the BJP in discomfort despite the party’s brute majority on the floor of the Lok Sabha. The BJD would, therefore, be cautious about how it presents its stand on such an issue.
Last time, when a no-trust motion was brought against the Narendra Modi government in 2018, the BJD had staged a walkout even before it could be discussed, citing both UPA and NDA rule delivered injustice to the people of Odisha. “The party will not skirt the delicate Manipur issue. But a decision on the no-trust motion as well as its stand on the NCT bill will be taken when the time comes,” says a leader.
The BJD is unlikely to deal the current issue in a strictly political way. While it will have to tread a tightrope, on a humanitarian crisis like Manipur, the party may just find the boss’ humane signature for sure.
Resident Editor, Odisha