**Bhubaneswar: ** Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been keeping up its party’s policy of maintaining equidistance from Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and now it has also announced not being a part of Congress-led ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance of anti-BJP parties) ahead of the Lok Sabha election this year.
Now the question arises why BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is committed to maintaining the ‘equidistance’ from Congress, BJP & ‘Mahagathbandhan’.
Political experts are of the view that BJD wants to keep its options open so that the post poll bargaining power with the party in power at the Centre would be more for the sake of Odisha’s common interests.
Political analysts are also of the view that BJD is a regional party and its fifth stint is believed to be a foregone conclusion. The ramification of its equidistance policy could enable its Government in Odisha work better for the welfare of the State as well as the people.
Political observer and senior journalist Rabi Das viewed, “The main reason behind BJD’s such a strategy is the election results of 2009 and 2014 and also 2019. When BJP was out of the alliance with BJD then in 2009, it was found in the election that BJD gained more seats than before. In 2014 too, BJD’s power also further increased despite its fight with BJP and Congress.”
“The strategy is that the anti-incumbency if at all should not go in favour of a single party, rather get divided between Congress and BJP. Equidistance politics means these two political foes will fight against each other. Anti-incumbency votes will get divided following which BJD will be the gainer,” he opined.
He explained, “Who is the main contender of BJD here in Odisha? Here in the State, BJP and Congress. Earlier it was Congress and later on BJP. These two parties are the main contenders of BJD. If the equidistance is maintained, the anti-incumbency environment will be shared by the both parties. It will not get one-sided. This will help Naveen Patnaik and BJD. It is well-known to Naveen Patnaik that the same strategy has already favoured him in 2009 and 2014 and it will also favour this time too.”
Another political expert and senior journalist Prabhu Kalyan Mohapatra viewed, “The reason behind BJD’s repeated claim of equidistance is that two parties in India are the main. Congress had been in power for many years and now the BJP. Competition is between these two parties. If the policy is maintained, whoever comes to power, BJD is never at risk. For this reason, Naveen Babu is talking about equidistance.”
“For self security, Biju Janata Dal is harping on the same string of equidistance,” he remarked.
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