The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) announced its support for the National Democratic Alliance’s Vice Presidential nominee Jagdeep Dhankhar after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday.
During the telephonic conversation, Mr. Modi sought BJD’s support for candidature of Mr. Dhankhar, to which the BJD supremo gave its consent, said party sources here.
“It has also been decided that a representative of BJD would remain present during filing of nomination by Mr. Dhankhar,” said Manas Mangaraj, BJD Rajya Sabha member, here.
In 2017, the Odisha CM had preferred to go with Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the opposition’s candidate for vice-president though it supported NDA’s presidential candidate at the time, Ram Nath Kovind. This time around, the regional party has extended its support to both NDA’s presidential as well as vice-presidential candidates.
“The support of BJD has exposed its double-speak. The regional party announced its policy to maintain equal distance from both BJP and Congress. But in reality, they are more than willing to support BJP on every national issue,” said Satya Nayak, media convenor of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee.
Mr. Nayak took a dig at Mr. Patnaik saying, “While supporting NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, BJD took the plea that she is a tribal and daughter of the soil. In case of Mr. Dhankhar, Odisha CM was just waiting for PM’s phone call.”
The BJD may play a critical role in building a support group for NDA vice presidential nominee as there might not be overwhelming backing for Mr. Dhankhar like Ms. Murmu.