Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has upped the ante against the government at the Centre. On Tuesday, Patnaik will lead his government’s ministers, party legislators and Members of Parliament in a protest to demand an increase in minimum support price, or MSP, of paddy. Patnaik leads the Biju Janata Dal, which has ruled Odisha for the last 18 years. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has emerged a serious challenger in the state, focusing on winning a majority of the state’s 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made several visits to the state in the last couple of months and announced key infrastructure projects. A worried Congress has accused Patnaik of being in a secret deal with the BJP.
Opposition parties on Monday were upbeat with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members joining forces in the Rajya Sabha. The two parties, with a significant trust deficit, have sealed an alliance for the 80 Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh. The SP and BSP members, supported by other Opposition parties, protested a CBI probe against SP chief Akhilesh Yadav on alleged illegal mining. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned repeatedly because of the protests. Rare as it was, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav and the BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra later held a joint press conference.
Nervousness in MP Congress
The first session of the newly elected Madhya Pradesh Assembly began on Monday. A day before, the ruling Congress alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was indulging in horse-trading. On Sunday, Minister for Higher Education, Sports and Youth Affairs Jitu Patwari told the media that the BJP had reached out to several Congress MLAs. Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh (pictured), too, raised the same concern. While the BJP denied the allegations outright, some nervousness was evident in the Congress camp. Chief Minister Kamal Nath scurried off to meet disgruntled MLAs. He met independent MLAs Surendra Singh aka Shera Bhaiya (Burhanpur) and Kedar Dawar (Bhagwanpura), who were demanding a cabinet berth. A pacified Surendra Singh later said, "I had to put pressure (on the ruling Congress) because only the crying baby gets milk."