ROURKELA: It was a meeting between two political rivals who did not see eye to eye for the last 13 years.
Once close associates, the two leaders, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and former Union Minister Dilip Ray had drifted apart since 2001 after the latter was dropped from AB Vajpayee Cabinet, purportedly at the behest of Naveen.
When they met, the two set political circles on fire. Speculations were rife over the reason behind such a meeting though senior leaders from both BJD and BJP were tightlipped about what transpired between two.
Officially, Ray raised the issue of expediting land acquisition for second Brahmani bridge and four-laning of the NH 143 stretch from Birmitrapur to Rajamunda and its two-laning till Barkote. The BJP MLA also handed over a memorandum to the Chief Minister demanding a Government medical college and hospital (MCH) and relocation of the proposed MCH of ESIC at Rourkela.
Political observers believe that there is more to it than meets the eye. Leaders in both BJD and BJP have kept their fingers crossed over the possibility of rapprochement between the two leaders considering their past association which was tumultuous.
Ray had won the Rajya Sabha polls in April, 2002 by fighting against the might of Naveen as an Independent candidate by engineering cross voting within the ruling combine. Besides, he challenged the BJD in Rourkela in 2014 polls and emerged victorious as a BJP candidate.