BJD to oppose govt in RS; TMC to be bridge between third front, INDIA bloc

BJD to oppose govt in RS; TMC to be bridge between third front, INDIA bloc

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik on Monday asked his party’s nine Rajya Sabha (RS) members to emerge as a “vibrant and strong” opposition in the Upper House. The BJD, which supported the government during the 17th Lok Sabha on crucial issues, couldn't win any Lok Sabha seat in the 2024 general elections. At the meeting, Patnaik asked the lawmakers to raise issues concerning the state's interests.

After their poor showing in the Lok Sabha polls, regional parties, such as Odisha's BJD, are set to take a more strident position against the government at the Centre, especially on issues concerning their respective states.

Political parties not aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) or the Congress-led INDIA bloc may emerge as a distinct group in the RS.

The Trinamool Congress (TMC), the third-largest party in the Upper House, hopes to reach out to parties such as the BJD and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) for floor coordination in the House. The TMC hopes to be the bridge between the INDIA bloc and these parties, given that it is not an electoral ally of the Congress.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, BJD leader in Rajya Sabha Sasmit Patra said Patnaik asked them to fight for the rights of Odisha’s people in Parliament. When asked whether the BJD would maintain its earlier stance of giving issue-based support to the BJP-led government, he said, “No more support to the BJP, only opposition. We may go to any extent to protect the interests of Odisha.”

Reacting to the development, TMC’s RS leader Derek O'Brien posted on X, "Khela hobe (the game is afoot) in the Rajya Sabha."

A TMC leader, who didn't want to be named, said the party was not an election ally of the Congress and, therefore, better understood the concerns of the BJD and some other regional parties.

"These parties will prefer working with us than with the Congress directly," the TMC leader said, indicating that the BJD has reached out to the TMC, and initial discussions on devising a floor strategy will take place in the coming days.

The BJP has 90 MPs in the RS while the Congress has 26, followed by TMC’s 13 and YSRCP’s 11 MPs. The DMK and the Aam Aadmi Party have ten each, and the BJD has nine. Telangana's Bharat Rashtra Samithi has five, the Bahujan Samaj Party has one MP, and the AIADMK has four MPs. Of these, the YSRCP, the BJD, the BRS, and the BSP are not aligned with either of the two blocs.

On Monday, three of the TMC's MPs expressed solidarity and reached the site of Delhi minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi's protest to express solidarity with her. The AAP was part of the INDIA bloc for the 2024 LS polls. However, the Congress has ruled out any alliance with the AAP for the forthcoming Haryana Assembly polls.

The BJD and BRS couldn't win any Lok Sabha seats in Odisha and Telangana, respectively. The YSRCP is down to four seats from the 22 it had in the previous Lok Sabha. These parties had helped the BJP in Parliament on different issues over the last few years. The BJD, for example, had helped Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw get elected to Rajya Sabha in 2019 and 2024.

At a Sunday meeting with senior BJD leaders, Patnaik said, "You all know that the BJP has got four seats more than the majority mark in the Odisha assembly. At the Centre also, it does not have a majority on its own. Hence, you should work hard, stay united, and strengthen the party."