The BJP-BJD alliance in Orissa floundered on the unreasonable stand of the BJD that the BJP had become a liability and that Naveen Patnaik was so popular that he was in a position to win the election on his own. So he put forth an unreasonable formula of seat sharing, which involved a drastic cut in the number of seats the BJP was to contest. Is Naveen so popular? The ground reality is different. The manner in which Patnaik won the confidence vote baffled everybody. All norms were thrown to winds. There was no discussion in the House, which is customary in any confidence motion before it is put to vote.
Based on the percentage of votes of both assembly and Lok Sabha elections in 2004, the BJP refuted the claim of Naveen Patnaik by saying that BJD'spercentage of votes has decreased compared to that of the BJP. So far as the Panchayat elections and the urban body elections are concerned, the BJP polled 18 to 22 per cent of votes. So the tall claim of Naveen Patnaik is not based on facts. And his so-called popularity is not reflected in vote percentage. In this regard, the BJP said that the previous equation of 84 seats to BJD and 63 to BJP and 12 seats to BJD and nine to BJP for state assembly and Lok Sabha elections respectively should be maintained. But Naveen was reluctant to concur with the claim of the BJP and offered only 35 seats for the state assembly and five for the Lok Sabha, which is very humiliating and undignified for the national-level party, BJP.
Since this proposal was not accepted by the BJP, Naveen snapped the alliance at about 9 pm on March 7, 2009. His conduct was suspect, as he was in touch with the Congress, CPI, CPM, JMM and NCP. The BJP met the Governor at 11.15 pm on the same day and withdrew its support from the government and demanded that the government, being in minority, should be dismissed and President'sRule imposed. Thereafter, returning from the Governor'sHouse, Leader of BJP Legislative Party along with BJP MLAs and officebearers, Shri BB Harichandan said that Naveen Patnaik has not only betrayed the BJP, he has also betrayed the people of Orissa who had given their mandate in favour of the BJP-BJD alliance. Shri Patnaik, thereafter, joined hands with the NCP, CPI, CPM, and JMM and also garnered the support of two BJP MLAs, who have lost their constituencies due to reorganisation process of constituencies, and Patnaik claimed before the Governor that he had the support of 77 MLAs.
The Speaker asked the CM to move the Vote of Confidence, which the CM did and read out a written speech on the performance of his government. Shri Harichandan demanded for a debate in the House on the Vote of Confidence but the Speaker did not pay heed to his request. Although it was proposed to put the motion for vote at 5 pm, the Speaker at about 12 noon put the motion to vote without caring for the Opposition'sdemand and declared that the motion was passed by voice vote. Division was demanded but it was not listened to. Shri Harichandan said that it was the blackest day not only in the history of Orissa assembly but also in the parliamentary history of the country. He accused the CM and the Speaker of murdering democracy and behaving in a manner, which was unbecoming of their position. Then Shri Harichandan with state party chief Suresh Pujari and all the BJP MLAs and MPs went to Governor'sHouse and said that the direction of the Governor had been violated and the assembly proceedings were concluded in a hurry without following the rules of business of the House. ?No MLA was given any opportunity to participate in the debate and there was actually no voting. Therefore, the government should be dismissed and President'sRule imposed forthwith. This message has now reached the people of Orissa and the conduct of the CM has been exposed. The BJP will now go to the people of the state to further expose the misdeeds and betrayal of the Naveen Patnaik government, which will have to pay a heavy price for its misdeeds?, said BJP national vice president Jual Oram while talking to Organiser. In 2007 and 2008, in all the local body elections the vote percentage of BJD was 32 per cent compared to BJP's22 per cent, while the Congress continued to be the largest party in terms of vote percentage. In each assembly and Lok Sabha seat, the BJP is the deciding factor between the Congress and the BJD. Although the BJP cannot win many seats on its own, it can drastically eat into vitals of BJD'svote share. Here it is worth mentioning that to ditch the BJP, Shri Patnaik demanded the lion'sshare in seat sharing, on the pretext of more winnable situation for the BJD.
The BJD was formed in 1997 by some loyalists of Biju Patnaik. Nor was the party formed after a political movement, neither did it have any cadre base. It was the blessings of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee that put the party on the path of success since its inception. It is no secret that the meteoric rise of the BJD would not have been possible but for the alliance with the BJP. On Naveen'sdemand, Shri Vajpayee allocated huge funds for the development of Orissa?be it aftermath of the super cyclone or be it special package for KBK region?during the NDA government, the people of the state, experienced good governance.
All these years, Naveen learnt the art of survival amid revolt against his leadership by a number of founding leaders of Biju Janata Dal such as Bijoy Mahapatra, Dilip Roy, Nalini Mohanty, Ramakrishna Patnaik, Kamla Das and many others. He has also been successful in making so many active founder members dormant in BJD politics, and one such glaring example among the lot is Sambalpur MP Prasanna Acharya.
Naveen Patnaik, when joined politics, was accorded a warm welcome in politics in Orissa by the people as a Biju legacy. But Naveen exploited the simplicity of Oriya people and subsequently managed to grab the anti-Congress space with the active support of BJP cadre base. Although the BJP leadership both at the centre and the state projected Naveen as a statesman by even ignoring the sentiments of the BJP workers. Naveen subsequently succeeded in finishing all the senior leaders who could have posed a threat to him in the future. And now it was the turn of the BJP to face the music of Naveen style of politics to break the alliance.
It is now for the people of the state to decide as to who will take the centre stage by gaining anti-Congress votes. Some political pundits have opined that a Karnataka-type sympathy wave might sweep the state in favour of the BJP, given the way Naveen ditched the alliance unilaterally. After the break-up of the alliance, both the BJD and the BJP have started blaming each other for this, which might benefit the Congress, which had lost all its hopes before this political development occurred in the state. It is said that the Congress played a dirty game in indirectly breaking the alliance and its studied silence over the political development in the state?particularly over the break-up of the alliance?is a proof enough.
BJP national secretary Dharmendra Pradhan said, ?Shri Patnaik must answer to the people of Orissa why he opted to ally with the JMM, which openly champions the cause of breaking-up of Orissa and merger of at least three districts with Jharkhand? He must also tell the people why has the Church, which should stay away from politics, complimented him for breaking the alliance with the BJP??
Talking about BJP'spopularity in the state, Shri Suresh Pujari, chief of Orissa BJP, said: ?It is wrong to say that the BJP has no ground in the state, as claimed by Naveen. This election will make it clear that what is the difference between a cadre-based party like the BJP and a cadreless party like the BJD. The enthusiasm among the cadre of BJP has generated renewed hopes in the party.? The people of Orissa will give a befitting reply to the great betrayal perpetrated by Naveen and the bubble of BJD'spopularity claim shall burst very shortly in this election, said confident-looking senior BJP leader KV Singdeo.