Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had a guarded response on his party’s plans for the upcoming Lok Sabha and Presidential elections. “It’s still early days. We will look into it when the matter comes up,” he told NDTV if his Biju Janata Dal would be a part of any proposed third front. He, however, said that his party prefers its independence from any political formation
Mr Patnaik also made it clear that his party’s stance on the presidential nominee would be based on who the candidate is. “Let’s see who the candidate is, that is more important,” the BJD chief remained noncommittal. In the 2017 Presidential polls, the Biju Janata Dal had supported NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind.
The BJD’s support to the ruling NDA is crucial to cross the half-way mark as currently it is falling short by about 1.2 per cent of the total votes it needs for its candidate to sail through. With 21 MPs across both houses of the Parliament, Mr Patnaik controls around 3.22 per cent of votes which can ensure a smooth win for the BJP in the July Presidential elections.
The 75-year-old also insisted that his party will prioritise its independence over anything else.
“We have always preferred our independence and the matter of the presidential candidate hasn’t come up for discussion.
The President of India is elected by an electoral college that’s formed by 776 parliamentarians and 4,120 legislators. As per the sources, the government will try and reach a consensus in consultation with its allies, including supporting parties like the YSR Congress and Naveen Patnaik’s BJD.
The Odisha Chief Minister’s stand is crucial amid the buzz of opposition parties trying to put up a joint candidate for the presidential polls. Regional parties like Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, MK Stalin’s DMK, Uddhav Thackera’s Shiv Sena, and K Chandrasekhar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti are expected to play a key role in deciding whether to put up a joint opposition candidate.
The regional parties, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, have also called for opposition unity for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had earlier met Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, setting off speculation of an anti-BJP third front in making.
Recently, KCR, however, dismissed the idea of political fronts, saying there have been multiple fronts in the past which have not yielded much.