Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal and principal opposition Bharatiya Janata Party will contest the forthcoming simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the State separately, scotching speculations about a possible pre-poll alliance between the two erstwhile allies.

The confirmation to this effect came through a message on social media post by State BJP President Manmohan Samal that their party will contest all 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 Assembly seats alone. His announcement was welcomed by several senior leaders of the party in the State.

Amid alliance talks during the past few weeks, the BJD had been taking forward its poll preparedness for each Lok Sabha constituency in separate consultations with Chief Minister and party president Naveen Patnaik. The BJD had completed stocktaking of as many as 10 Lok Sabha constituencies and the 70 Assembly seats under them until Friday (March 22).

Samal’s announcement came a day after a delegation of the State unit of the BJP approached the Chief Electoral Officer of the State, seeking the removal of hoardings of government welfare schemes with photographs of the Chief Minister.

In his post, Samal lamented that many welfare schemes of the Modi government were not reaching the grass-roots level in the State. “We realise that wherever there are double-engine governments in the country, there has been accelerated implementation of development and pro-poor welfare schemes, and the States have progressed in every sector,” he said.

The State BJP president, however, expressed gratitude to Patnaik for his party’s support to the Modi government at the Centre on many issues of national importance over the past 10 years.

The talks about an alliance between the two parties had started after Prime Minister Narendra Modi refrained from attacking the BJD government during his two recent visits to Odisha (February 3 and March 5). Modi had also addressed Patnaik as the “popular Chief Minister” at his second meeting.

Talks failed

According to sources, the alliance talks failed when the BJD did not agree to concede more than one-fourth of Assembly seats to the BJP despite agreeing to leave two-thirds of Lok Sabha seats to the BJP. The BJD’s argument was that they had been winning more than three-fourths of Assembly seats in the last three elections after the alliance between the two parties had ended ahead of the 2009 polls. The regional party had also swept last the Zilla Parishad and urban local body elections in the State.

Political pundits feel that a post-poll alliance between the two parties cannot be ruled out in case the BJP requires the BJD’s support at the Centre, considering the proximity between Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Patnaik.

This had been evident since the regional party helped Union Minister Ashwini Vaisnhaw get elected to the Rajya Sabha from Odisha after the 2019 elections and again in February this year.