The disquiet over the Kandhamal riots, mutually acceptable seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha polls and the poor show of the saffron ally in recent civic elections could have contributed in equal measure to the parting of ways between Biju Janata Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] after 11 years.
Forty three people were killed and scores of villages set ablaze in the August 23 riots in Kandhamal district following the assassination of VHP leader Swami Laxamananda Saraswati.
Patnaik's image as a "secular" leader took a beating as thousands of people fled their villages and took shelter in relief camps as mobs allegedly owing allegiance to the Sangh Parivar attacked churches and houses in Kandhamal district.
Over 2,500 people are still living in the camps. In further embarrassment to the chief minister, Sangh Parivar decided to observe a statewide bandh on Christmas and the BJP supported the call. Patnaik had to speak to BJP central leaders before the issue could be resolved.
Besides, a section of the BJP legislators even caused a ruckus in the assembly on the killing of the Swami demanding that the party should withdraw support to the Patnaik government.
"These incidents could have prompted the BJD supremo to weigh his options and part ways with a party, which had tried to embarrass him on several occasions," political analyst Rabi Das said.
Senior BJD MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra, who is being described as the regional outfit's main strategist, said, "The BJP was attempting a Hindutva agenda in Kandhamal which the party did not approve of."
Asked whether it was the cause behind the break-up of the alliance, the former IAS officer said, "it is one of the factors."
Das recalled that BJP's National Vice-President Jual Oram had demanded that the party should withdraw support to the government in the wake of the killing of 12 tribals in police firing at Kalinga Nagar on January 2, 2006.
Oram also led a campaign against the government move to allot the Khandadhar iron ore mines in north Orissa to South Korean steel major Posco.
Also, Patnaik was not in favour of conceding the number of Lok Sabha and assembly seats to the alliance partner this time as was done in 2004 as the thrust was on "winnability", a senior BJD leader said. (MORE) PTI
"After the BJP's dismal performance in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Baripada civic polls, the party's stock plummeted. And, most BJD leaders were against maintaining status quo in seat-sharing this time," he said.
The BJP had fought in nine of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 63 of the 147 assembly constituencies in 2000 and 2004 polls respectively and had won in seven parliamentary and 32 assembly seats on the last occasion.
After BJP's dismal performance in the civic polls, two senior BJP ministers, Samir Dey and Golak Naik even alleged that the BJD had swept the polls by "utilising its black money" which had infuriated the chief minister. Dey had to subsequently resign from the cabinet.
Meanwhile, leaders of the two erstwhile alliance partners have been busy attacking each other after the split. "When you could see that their support base was eroding, how could you concede them 95 assembly seats which they claimed," BJD Secretary General Damodar Rout asked.
On the other hand, Jual Oram claimed that the BJD had offered them five Lok Sabha and only 25 assembly seats which was unacceptable.
"It seems the BJD leadership had made up its mind to break the alliance much before. It was pre-planned and amounted to betrayal of the BJP," Oram said.