BHUBANESWAR: All is not well between Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik and party strategist Pyarimohan Mohapatra.
What is perceived in political circles as a clear sign of strained relationship between Naveen and the Rajya Sabha member, the former on Tuesday campaigned in Athgarh Assembly segment for March 18 bypoll with known Pyari-detractor Damodar Rout and other senior leaders in tow.
Even though Pyari asserted that there are no differences between him and the Chief Minister, developments in the recent past have added grist to the rumour mills that something is amiss.
It all started with the selection of former minister Ranendra Pratap Swain as the party’s candidate for the bypoll. Sources said the decision to field Swain was taken by Naveen without consulting Pyari.
What has surprised BJD watchers is that on Monday, Naveen went through the tedious job of selecting candidates for zilla parishad president posts taking MLAs, districts leaders and elected panchayat representatives on board. This is for the first time that Naveen had a direct interaction with party’s elected PRI representatives. Sources said earlier the nitty-gritty was used to be handled by Pyari.
Naveen’s campaign in Athgarh, where he was accompanied by Cuttack MP Bhatruhari Mahatab, former minister Kalindi Behera and Barabati-Cuttack MLA Debasish Samantray apart from Rout, has lent credence to the speculation that the relationship with Pyari has gone sour. The Chief Minister will again campaign in Athgarh constituency on March 15.
Pyari told this paper that he would not be campaigning for the party candidate. ‘’How can I campaign for a candidate against whom I had organised three meetings in the constituency in the past?’’ he asked.
The Rajya Sabha member categorically said that as he had campaigned against Swain, he will not campaign in his favour. “How can I request people to vote for him when I had given speeches against him?” he said and added many leaders of the party had done so in the past.
Pyari said he had already informed the Chief Minister as well as the candidate about his decision and apprised them of the reasons behind it.
There is also no need for so many leaders campaigning for Swain as he is going to win anyway, he said. ‘’Naveen’s campaign will be more than enough.’’