State

Naveen Patnaik sets the tone for 2019 Lok Sabha & Assembly Elections, will go solo, no alliances with anyone!

Dismissing all speculations of seat-sharing with some fringe political parties for the forthcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the state, Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday said the party would go to polls alone.

“We will fight the elections on our own strength. We will have no tie-up with any other political parties,” Mr Patnaik told reporters here.

Many expected that the BJD might go for alliance with smaller political parties to check the advance of Congress which is in “advance” stage of talks with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Left parties.

Sources said the Congress has almost sealed the deal with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Left parties and a formal announcement will be made shortly.

The BJD president said the party would adopt “winnability” as the main criteria for selection of candidates.

“Winnability is the sole criteria for selection of candidates. We will select the best candidates and manage the elections well,” said the chief minister of Odisha.
Selection of candidates on the basis of “winnability” criteria is also being stressed by the Odisha unit of the Congress party.

About 32 million voters will exercise their franchise simultaneously in the assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Odisha across four phases, beginning 11 April, the Election Commission of India (EC) said on Sunday. And when Odisha goes to polls next month, there is a lot at stake for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress play catch-up.

In the 147-member state assembly, the BJD has 117 MLAs. The party had won 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. A win in 2019 will give BJD chief and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik his fifth term in office. Any shortfall will be seen as the BJD’s dwindling popularity in the state, said experts, but argued that people will still vote Patnaik back despite some anti-incumbency.

“BJD is still the leader though BJP has improved its strength and the Congress is regrouping in the state following their victory in neighbouring Chhattisgarh,” said Jayant Mahapatra, a political analyst in Odisha.

BJD leaders said that notwithstanding the BJP’s surge, the regional party will do better. “We have more than two-thirds majority in assembly. Our CM is a man of action and you will see people’s faith in us. The tally in the assembly will grow further,” said BJD leader Anup Sai.

The state government has done a lot of work “for farmers, for the poor and for women, and they will support us as has been the case for the last 19 years,” Sai said, and added: “BJP is spreading misinformation, which people will not count while voting.”

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