The ouster of Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra’s loyalists, including Finance Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei, from the ministry by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, has silenced the dissidents for the time being, it seems. Analysts said it could spell trouble for the BJD in the coming days as disgruntled factions within the party may close ranks.
Since the May 29 aborted attempt to unseat him, Naveen has removed eight ministers, three chiefs of public sector undertakings, a Planning Board member and several chiefs of cooperative bodies. Taken together, these dismissed Pyari loyalists can form a formidable group.
Many of the disappointed ministerial aspirants, who are more than a dozen, may also join the dissidents in the coming days. Sources said the dismissed ministers and some pro-Pyari MLAs may not be given tickets for the 2014 Assembly elections. In some cases, the BJD leadership has already started promoting their alternatives in their constituencies.
The Pyari loyalists, who have now become persona non grata in the Naveen dispensation, are influential in their constituencies and have the potential to queer the pitch of official candidates in the next Assembly polls. They may not have the capacity to win an election without the BJD tag, but they have the potential to damage the prospects of the ruling party candidates in their constituencies, experts said.
The Opposition political parties may also try to fish in the troubled waters. Damaging the electoral prospects of the BJD candidates will certainly help the Congress improve its tally. The moves of the Pyari loyalists would be under watch in the coming days and they are likely to regroup to strike back at an opportune moment.
There are several BJD MLAs who played a key role in foiling the coup attempt against Naveen. But many of them have been ignored in the reshuffle which is perceived to be the last before the next elections. Several newly-inducted ministers, however, dismissed the possibility of regrouping by dissidents saying Naveen is the only leader in the BJD who has the charisma to sway voters. Those, who were removed from the ministry, won elections only because of Naveen, they said and added that the dissidents would not succeed.
The Congress is yet to react to the situation formally. A group of party MLAs, led by OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik are in New Delhi meeting Central ministers.