For Patnaik, it is country call before OPP unity


For the second time in less than two months, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has steered clear of giving any commitment to join the proposed all-India anti-BJP front promoted by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Patnaik had avoided any discussion on the subject during his meeting with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on 24 March, forcing Mamata to describe her meeting with Patnaik as a courtesy call. On 9 May, Nitish Kumar met Patnaik in Bhubaneswar but failed to elicit any commitment from the latter regarding the anti-BJP front. Nitish is putting energy and speed in his campaign as one major Assembly election is done and preparations for others (Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Mizoram) are likely to start almost immediately, and he has called a mega opposition meet on 18 May.
Jaipur is agog with reports that rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot is close to announcing his next plan of action after the Karnataka election results are known. The war of words between him and the state’s Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had escalated considerably after the latter alleged that former CM and BJP leader Vasundhara Raje had been instrumental in saving his government during the rebellion by the Pilot camp in 2020. While the revelation attracted a retort from Raje, Pilot chose to say that such things were better not discussed publicly. Even as the Congress high command seems in no mood to take any initiative, the Pilot camp is preparing for a showdown.
The unprecedented low turnout of voters in urban local bodies’ elections in Uttar Pradesh has worried all political parties, most of all the BJP, over the likely outcome. It is certain that in the absence of any wave of sorts, the victory margins will be in the hundreds. The 38% turnout in the capital city of Lucknow is most worrisome since the BJP has put all its resources into campaigning. Even Samajwadi Party leader and ex-CM Akhilesh Yadav had taken to electioneering, albeit in the last few days, confining himself to a few districts. Leaders of the BSP and Congress are, however, upbeat that their candidates might just benefit from the division of bulk votes between the BJP and SP in some places.