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Biju Janata Dal backs Vaishnaw in RS polls; no alliance, says BJP

Last updated on: February 14, 2024 18:07 IST

The ruling Biju Janata Dal in Odisha on Wednesday announced that it will support the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ashwini Vaishnaw in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in the state.

IMAGE: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik interacting with Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw at the site where three trains met with an accident killing at least 261 people and leaving more than 900 injured, Balasore, Odisha, June 3, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Earlier in the day, the candidature of Union minister Vaishnaw was announced by the BJP.

Soon after the development, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, in a statement said the BJD supports Vaishnaw's candidature for the "larger interest of the state's railways and telecom development".

"The Biju Janata Dal will support the candidature of Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union minister for railways, communication and information and technology, for the larger interest of state's railways and telecom development in the ensuing election to Rajya Sabha-2024," Patnaik said in the statement.

Vaishnaw was elected to the Upper House of Parliament with the BJD's support in 2019.

The Congress lambasted both BJP and BJD, alleging that "they are together and betraying the people of Odisha".


Vaishnaw arrived at Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

Speaking to PTI, he said, "I am a disciplined worker of the BJP. I want to express my gratitude and thanks to the party leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving me an opportunity to serve once again."

The BJP, however, said it has not sought BJD's support for Vaishnaw.

Speaking to media-persons, Odisha BJP president Manmohan Samal said, ”Our candidate Ashwini Vaishnaw will file his nomination papers tomorrow for the RS elections. We have sufficient numbers and will win the polls in the prevailing political scenario in Odisha.”

He also claimed that the "BJP has not sought support from anybody".

"In politics, if somebody extends support, why shall we refuse? The BJP will fight and if anyone wants to contest, one can file a nomination,” Samal said.

He, however, asserted that there will be no alliance between the BJD and the BJP and said his party will fight the upcoming state elections and Lok Sabha polls alone in Odisha.

AICC in-charge of Odisha, Ajoy Kumar, and state Congress president Sarat Pattanayak strongly criticised the BJP and the BJD over the ruling party's support to Vaishnaw.

In a post on X, Kumar said, ”BJP-BJD bonhomie! The ’tactical larger plan' of the two erstwhile ’married alliance' is on the move! ’BJD always backed BJP'. Now the Odias understand why CBI- ED never conducted a raid on the CM and his close aide Mr Pandian even though the state witnessed ’massive scams'.”

The Congress leader recalled the train accident in Balasore in June last year while attacking the BJD.

”For show, the Railway Minister shed a few tears, that's it! Today @bjd_odisha is supporting the same Railway Minister. The people of Odisha are watching!,” Kumar wrote on the micro-blogging site.

The Balasore accident involving three trains claimed the lives of 288 passengers and left more than 1100 people injured, he said.

State Congress president Pattanayak alleged that CM Naveen Patnaik has "betrayed the people of Odisha".

"The people of the state have voted for the BJD. But, the regional party has joined hands with the BJP. They are together," Pattanayak said.

Three Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha will fall vacant as the terms of Vaishnaw, Amar Patnaik and Prashanta Nanda in the Upper House are due to end in April this year.

Two BJD candidates Debashish Samantaray and Subhasish Khuntia filed their nomination papers for the elections to be held on February 27.

The BJD had kept the third seat vacant.

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