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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

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Panic grips BJD, BJP

By Our Staff Reporter

BHUBANESWAR, MAY 11. Just one more day to go for the counting of votes, panic gripped the ruling Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in Orissa on Tuesday after the Telugu Desam Party and its allies were routed in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Though the two parties had fought the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls on a much-publicised bonhomie, the alliance leaders are clearly worried over the outcome mainly because there was little coordination between them in most of the Assembly seats.

The sparring between the alliance partners was visible in the Assembly elections where each one tried to cut the other to size, thereby hampering the chances of the alliance nominees in at least 30 segments. The Lok Sabha seats, however, did not see such sparring due to the absence of rebel candidates in the fray.

The differences between the two partners had stemmed from their failure to exchange some Assembly seats. Although both sides had reached an agreement to leave some seats to each other where the respective parties were in a strong position, it did not take place due to the intransigence of a handful of leaders.

As a result, the BJD was seen covertly supporting its rebel candidates in several Assembly seats where the BJP candidate was the official nominee of the alliance and vice versa. In the Dhamnagar seat, the BJD machinery came out in support of its rebel Manas Mallick, while in Satyabadi, the BJP cadre rooted for the party rebel, Ramaranjan Baliarsingh. Expectedly, the Congress was rubbing its hands in glee.

An internal meeting of the BJP held last week took a grim view of the internal squabbles within the alliance during the elections. They, however, glossed over their own doings in queering the pitch of BJD candidates.

Besides, both the parties bled due to the presence of a large number of dissidents in the contest in several seats. While the BJD led the pack with the maximum number of rebel candidates, the BJP was not too better placed.

But the alliance leaders are still hopeful of securing a majority chiefly due to the charisma and clean image of the Chief Minister and BJD president, Naveen Patnaik, who addressed over 200 election meetings.

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