8 Mar : Claiming support of 76 MLAs after the BJP’s withdrawal of support, BJD chief and Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik on Sunday met Governor M C Bhandare who asked him to seek a vote of confidence in a special assembly session on 11th March.
"There will be a vote of confidence in the state assembly on March 11 during a special session," Patnaik told reporters after meeting the governor along with a major section of MLAs supporting him.
Stating that he handed over a list of 76 legislators supporting his government to the Governor, the chief minister said a substantial number of MLAs in the 147-member assembly had met the governor along with him.
Meanwhile, BJD sources said of the 61 of his party MLAs, Speaker Kishore Mohanty and former minister Debashish Naik did not accompany Patnaik to the Rajbhavan, while 59 MLAs were with the party leader who requires the support of 74 legislators to save his government.
Four MLAs, one each from the CPIM, CPI and two of the NCP, four from JMM, seven Independents accompanied the chief minister, they said, maintaining that the party had more than the requisite number in the assembly.
BJP has an effective strength of 30 MLAs while the Congress has 38 members.
Reduced to a minority after BJP’s withdrawal, the ruling BJD has geared up since Saturday night to garner support of the small political parties and Independents.
Soon after withdrawing support following failure of seat sharing talks for the coming Lok Sabha and assembly polls, BJP had demanded imposition of President’s Rule in the state and immediate resignation of Patnaik.
BJD’s chief strategist and Rajya Sabha member, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra said "there is absolutely no threat to our government as we have the support of more than the required number of 74 mlas."
Mohapatra and other senior BJD leaders held a marathon meeting with leaders of JMM, NCP, CPI and CPIM as also some Independent legislators before meeting the governor.
While NCP legislator Arun Dey said his party would support the BJD at the instruction from its central and state leadership, CPI’s Narayan Reddy said his party wanted to keep the BJP out of power.
CPI(M) legislator Laxman Munda said "we support BJD as it has severed its ties with the BJP. We are also against imposition of President’s Rule in the state."
"Since BJD has snapped its ties with the BJP, we are supporting it," said JMM’s Bimal Lochan Das, whose party has four members in Orissa assembly.
CPI-M strikes alliance with BJD, pushes for Third Front
The CPI-M was upbeat in its quest to form a Third Front and struck a pre-poll alliance with the BJD in Orissa within a day after the ruling state party snapped ties with longtime ally BJP.
JD(S) leader and former premier H D Deve Gowda also wooed the BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to join the planned Third Front to provide a secular,non-Congress and non-BJP national alternative.
Assembly elections are also being held in Orissa along with the Lok Sabha polls.
CPI-M’s politburo member Sitaram Yechury told reporters in Bhubaneswar on Sunday after meeting Patnaik that his party would have a pre-poll alliance with the BJD and welcomed the end of ties between the BJD and BJP.
Patnaik responded to Yechury’s proposal saying, "BJD will have seat sharing adjustment with the Left parties."
Asked about BJD joining the Third Front, Yechuri said the discussion in this regard had already started with BJD disassociating itself from BJP.
Both Patnaik and Yechuri indicated that the issue of BJD joining a third front would be formalised after the elections.
In New Delhi, CPI(M) chief Prakash Karat welcomed the BJP-BJD split and said it was confident that more and more "non-Congress, non-BJP parties would join the Left" to forge a third alternative for the upcoming polls.
Gowda wrote a letter to Patnaik saying, "It is high time all like-minded secular forces sink their differences and work together for the toiling underprivileged, exploited and impoverished masses of India."
NCP to support Patnaik Ministry
The NCP has extended support of its two MLAs to the Naveen Patnaik Ministry in Orissa with party chief Sharad Pawar saying the two parties would contest upcoming Lok Sabha and state assembly elections in the state together.
The two-member Nationalist Congress Party in Orissa would support the Patnaik-led BJD Ministry in the wake of BJP’s withdrawal of support to it, Pawar said in New Delhi on Sunday.
Earlier, NCP spokesperson D P Tripathi in a statement said "the MLAs of the NCP will support the BJD government."
The Patnaik Ministry was reduced to a minority after the saffron party withdrew support to it following the collapse of the 11-year-old BJD-BJP alliance.
Pawar said both parties would also contest the assembly and parliamentary elections in the state jointly.
He said he had asked party leaders and Union Minister Praful Patel to hold talks with the ruling party in Orissa in this regard.