Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s whirlwind tour of the districts has assumed significance in the wake of reports that several district units of the ruling party may witness a rift with rebel Pyarimohan Mohapatra’s Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM) taking shape.
After a whirlwind visit to his home district Ganjam on Friday, the BJD supremo is scheduled to address a meeting at Baripada on Monday. With the Opposition also stepping up campaign against him, the Chief Minister is trying to reach out to the party workers as well as the general people by inaugurating projects and launching welfare schemes.
October, so far, has been a hectic month for Naveen as he visited at least four districts, including the tribal-dominated Koraput. Mayurbhanj will be the second tribal district Naveen will visit in a fortnight. He will also visit some more districts this month before the rally to be taken out by OJM on October 28 in Bhubaneswar.
BJD sources maintained that by touring the districts, the Chief Minister is preparing the party apparatus for polls as well as trying to ensure that the workers do not join the Morcha. Besides, ministers and senior BJD leaders have been asked to ensure that the Morcha does not succeed in attracting leaders and workers from their area.
The OJM is trying to ensure that disgruntled BJD workers and loyalists of Biju Patnaik from across the State attend its rally.
There are reports that the Morcha is wooing the middle level leaders and workers from several districts who have been disenchanted with the State leadership into its fold.
Though the chief spokesperson of the Morcha, Jagneswar Babu, said some leaders will openly attend the October 28 rally, he did not reveal their identities. You will know them on the rally day, he said and added that the OJM rally will be a big success.
However, the Pyari loyalists in the BJD are now lying low. “I am lying low for the time being and keeping a watch on the situation,” said a BJD MLA requesting anonymity. There are many such MLAs and leaders in the regional outfit who are staying away from the limelight as they are afraid of disciplinary action. Besides, Naveen is still the most popular leader with a large following. “We have to go by the people’s sentiment,” another MLA said.