Odisha: No more issue-based support, BJD to take on Opposition role in Parliament

The BJD will also the demand for approval of all pending irrigation projects including Mahanadi in Odisha.
Naveen Patnaik after the meeting with BJD RS MPs at Naveen Niwas
Naveen Patnaik after the meeting with BJD RS MPs at Naveen Niwas Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR: The bridges seem to have been burnt between the BJD and BJP post-elections.

Following the debacle in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, the regional outfit has decided to shed its 10-year-long policy of issue-based support to the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and play the role of Opposition.

Former chief minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik on Monday said that the party will be a very strong and vibrant Opposition in Rajya Sabha and make the Centre accountable on all issues. The BJD for the first time since its formation in 1997 has no MPs in the Lok Sabha.

Presiding over BJD’s parliamentary party meeting ahead of the Rajya Sabha session, Naveen asked his nine MPs in the Upper House to be the voice of the 4.5 crore people of Odisha and be a very strong and vibrant Opposition. He asked them to raise all issues about the state’s development and welfare of the people of Odisha. “Many just and rightful demands of Odisha have not been met. We must ensure that those demands are met in right earnest by the Centre,” he said.

Senior Rajya Sabha member Sasmit Patra told mediapersons after the meeting that if necessary the party MPs will protest and even go to the well of the House in the interest of Odisha.

“The BJD will make up for the lack of any member in the Lok Sabha by raising all issues vigorously in Rajya Sabha,” he said.

It was decided that the BJD will raise the long-standing demand of special category state status for Odisha, which the party is fighting for the last several years. The state has been facing natural disasters and needs to be accorded special category status, Patra said and added that the BJP had also mentioned it in the party’s 2014 election manifesto, but did not implement it.

Stating that there are several pending demands such as increasing coal royalty for Odisha which has not been done for the last 10 years, he said the people of Odisha are deprived of their rightful share for using it in their development. The BJD will also demand for approval of all pending irrigation projects including Mahanadi in Odisha.

The party will also demand that Ahimsa should be included in the preamble of the Constitution which was unanimously resolved in the Odisha Legislative Assembly as proposed by the then CM Naveen Patnaik. Other demands include immediate implementation of 33 per cent reservation for women in the Parliament and state Assemblies. Other issues to be raised include poor maintenance of NH in Odisha and sanction of 20 lakh PMAY houses for Odisha.

The BJD failed to win a single seat out of 21 in Odisha in the recent Lok Sabha polls while the BJP won 20 and Congress one. It also lost power in the state to the BJP.

The regional party has been an unofficial ally of the Modi government at the Centre for the last 10 years and supported the NDA on many issues and passage of contentious bills in the Parliament. The BJD had also set a precedent by handing over its own Rajya Sabha seat to help elect Union Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw twice from Odisha.

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