Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was directed by Governor M C Bhandare on Sunday to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly on March 11 after his coalition government was reduced to a minority following Bharatiya Janata Party's withdrawal of support ending their 11-year-old alliance.
Significantly, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha who together have eight MLAs have decided to support Patnaik and bail out the government during the floor test.
Claiming support of 76 MLAs in a House of 147, two more than the required majority, The Biju Janata Dal supremo met Bhandare who asked him to seek a vote of confidence in a special assembly session. "There will be a vote of confidence in the state assembly on March 11 during a special session," Patnaik told reporters after meeting the Governor along with a major section of his supporting MLAs, a day after BJD and the BJP parted ways.
Four MLAs, one each from the CPI-M and CPI and two from the NCP, four from JMM and seven Independents accompanied the chief minister and extended their support to the government, BJD sources said.
The sources said of its 61 of members, Speaker Kishore Mohanty and former minister Debashish Naik did not join Patnaik at the Raj Bhavan. The BJP has 30 MLAs.
"I assure all of you that there are more than 74 MLAs with us," Patnaik said.
A shocked BJP chief Rajnath Singh today said that he could not "ever imagine" that Naveen Patnaik-led party would snap the 11-year-old ties with the saffron party which is now working on a fresh strategy ahead of the polls.
"I feel it is unfortunate. We could not ever imagine that the BJP-BJD alliance will break down," Singh said in New Delhi.
The saffron party accused the BJD of unilaterally breaking the alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the state. "It was a decision of the BJD to break the alliance. Our party leaders are meeting to chalk out the future course of action," the BJP leader said. "We had formed the alliance to stop Congress and other parties from taking advantage of the situation. But that could not suceed", Patnaik said.
Hitting back, BJP leaders blamed Patnaik for collapse ofthe partnership. BJP Rajya Sabha member and L K Advani's emmisary to Orissa Chandan Mitra denounced Patnaik's "unilateral" announcement regarding breaking of the alliance. "We have not broken the alliance, it is Naveen Patnaik who announced on his own", senior BJP leader Bishwabhusan Harichandan said. Mitra, however, said seat sharing formula was certainly one the prime factors behind the development.