BJD president Naveen Patnaik held a meeting with his party’s nine Rajya Sabha MPs on Monday and asked them to emerge as a “vibrant and strong” opposition in the Upper House of Parliament during its upcoming session that would begin on June 27.

At the meeting, Patnaik also asked the lawmakers to raise issues concerning the state’s interests in a befitting manner.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the party’s leader in Rajya Sabha Sasmit Patra said, “The BJD MPs this time will not be confined to speaking on issues only, but are determined to agitate if the BJP-led government at the Centre ignores Odisha’s interest.”

Besides raising the demand for special status to Odisha, the BJD MPs will raise the issues of poor mobile connectivity and low density of bank branches in the state, he said.

“Odisha’s demand for revision of coal royalty has been ignored by the Centre for the last 10 years. This is causing great loss to the people of the state who are deprived of their rightful share,” he added.

Maintaining that the nine MPs in Rajya Sabha will act as a strong opposition, Patra said Patnaik has given clear instructions to fight for the rights of the state’s people in the Parliament.

When asked whether BJD would maintain its earlier stance of giving issue-based support to the BJP-led government, he said, “No more support to BJP, only opposition. We may go to any extent to protect the interests of Odisha.”

Later, Patra told PTI, “There is no question of supporting the BJP. The BJD president asked us to act as a strong and vibrant opposition if the NDA government continues to ignore the genuine demands of Odisha.”

The BJD has nine MPs in the Rajya Sabha, while it failed to win any seat in the recently held Lok Sabha elections, for the first time since its formation in 1997.

The BJD also lost power in the state with the BJP bringing an end to its government of 24 years.

The BJD not only supported the BJP in Parliament on different issues over the last few years but also helped Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw get elected to Rajya Sabha in 2019 and 2024.

At a meeting with senior BJD leaders on Sunday, Patnaik had said, “You all know that the BJP has got four seats more than the majority mark in the Odisha assembly. At the Centre also, it does not have a majority on its own. Hence, you should work hard, stay united, and strengthen the party.”

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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Published: 24 Jun 2024, 09:15 PM IST