Days after a meeting with his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) over a campaign to build a non-BJP, non-Congress Federal Front, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday said he wanted more time to decide on joining the Opposition’s Grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019.
"As far as Mahagathbandhan is concerned, we will take some time and think it over," he told reporters in New Delhi. Patnaik was in New Delhi to participate in a farmers' protest held by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for its demand to fix Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy at Rs. 2,930 per quintal from the current Rs. 1,750.
Patnaik will a 12-member delegation which will President Ram Nath Kovind in this regard. Addressing the gathering of farmers, Patnaik came down heavily on the Narendra Modi government for failing to fulfil the promises made before the 2014 general elections.
#WATCH Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik after BJD delegation met President Kovind: BJP in its manifesto in 2014 promised to give MSP to paddy farmers.They have done nothing. Today,we held a public meeting at Talkatora Stadium objecting this & now handed over a memorandum to the President pic.twitter.com/X2PyH95QrV— ANI (@ANI) January 8, 2019
"The Centre cannot run away from providing (adequate) MSP as it is its responsibility. It has not responded to our demands despite several reminders," he said.
At the protest march, many BJD leaders took a dig at the Modi government calling it "jumlebaazi ki Sarkar" (government of fake promises).
The BJP accused BJD supremo of "running away from his responsibility" with his agitation here over the issue of paddy price and blaming the Union government.
Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the BJD chief quotes from the Swaminathan committee's recommendations to question the central government but appears to be unaware that MS Swaminathan, who had authored the report, has praised the Modi government's measures to boost farm income.
On December 23, KCR met Patnaik. Hinting at the possibility of an alternative front of like-minded parties after the meeting, Patnaik said they discussed a number of issues, including matters of national and mutual interest. The meeting had lasted for more than 40 minutes.
Holding a joint press conference with KCR, Patnaik said: “We had a general discussion on matters of national interest and how to take this forward. We discussed several issues, including a further friendship amongst the like-minded parties,” he said.
(With agency inputs)