A day after meeting his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik went on a four-day trip to New Delhi, leading to speculations being bandied about in the state’s political circles.
Though the chief minister’s office (CMO) said that Patnaik has a number of official engagements, including meetings with Union ministers, during his visit to the national capital, sources in the ruling BJD claimed that he may meet leaders of other parties too.
He is scheduled to return to Odisha on May 13.
Patnaik’s sudden visit to Delhi sparked speculations that the BJD president may meet some opposition leaders who are already in touch with Kumar and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on forming an opposition grouping ahead of the 2024 elections.
The Odisha chief minister’s move is apparently seen as aimed at sending a message to the BJP, which has of late become an aggressive foe in his state.
Though the BJD claims that it maintains equal distance from both the NDA and UPA, it has often supported the BJP on various issues and bills in Parliament.
Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra claimed that Patnaik has all along supported the BJP’s central leadership, “therefore, there is no fear of CBI or ED in Odisha”.
BJP state president Manmohan Samal, however, claimed that the BJD has been perusing “opportunistic politics”.
“Patnaik was in alliance with BJP (2000-2009) due to compulsion,” he said.
However, BJD vice-president Prasanna Acharya said his party only works for the interest of Odisha.
“Our politics are for the benefit of Odisha,” he said.
With inputs from News18