ROURKELA: All is not well in the BJP camp in politically crucial Rourkela Assembly Constituency (AC) and adjacent RN Pali AC.While Rourkela MLA Dilip Ray continues to rub both the Central and State leadership of BJP the wrong way with his rebellious gestures, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram on Friday had a closed door hour-long meeting with him apparently to call a truce.The meeting comes a day after Ray indicated that he would not contest the Assembly election in 2019 and asked his supporters to prepare for agitation for the second Brahmani bridge in June.
Observers say Oram knows it well that without Ray’s support and huge vote base in Rourkela Assembly segment, his winning the Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat would be an uphill task in 2019. Speculation is also rife about Ray returning to BJD, but chances are slim as the ruling party is already overcrowded.
As per reports, a section of the BJP’s old timers are not comfortable with Ray and accuse him of one-upmanship. This has come as a disadvantage to Ray who appears to be a victim of circumstances as tides are rapidly turning against him.
After 19 years of hiatus, Ray returned to State politics and won the Rourkela seat in 2014 with a vote margin of around 10,800. Since becoming MLA, Ray has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Ministers concerned several times over the issues of upgradation of the RSP-run Ispat General Hospital (IGH) into Super Speciality Hospital and Medical College and second Brahmani bridge. Both the projects were promised by Modi in 2014 election meeting and officially announced in April, 2015.
However, with the projects making little progress, Ray has not shied away from expressing his frustration in the last one year, thereby creating enemies among Central and State BJP leaders. In his last letter to the PM in March this year, Ray had once again cried ‘sabotage’ behind the delay in both the projects and cited that the BJP was losing credibility in the region over the issue. BJP insiders said Ray has also made his case difficult by skipping the national executive meet last year and State executive meet in May at Bhubaneswar.
Meanwhile, the BJP started clipping Ray’s wings three months back. Without consulting him, his trusted aide Ranjit Nayak was removed as BJP’s Rourkela Town president and Nayak’s wife was also dropped as women wing chief of Panposh organisational district. Ray’s two others trusted men, Asesh Mohanty and Akshay Parida, were also dropped as ‘Mandal’ presidents.
Incidentally, Ray’s supporters stood by him for above three decades. When he was ousted from the ruling BJD, they supported him when he was in Congress till 2008. They also followed Ray when he joined BJP. But political dynamics are changing as his three trusted confidantes have dropped hints to dump Ray and stay in BJP, if need be.
BJP State secretary Dhiren Senapati said some vested-interest leaders are eyeing BJP tickets from Rourkela and RN Pali seats taking advantage of Ray’s commitment for the poll promises. These leaders are conspiring to create rift between Oram and Ray. He hoped that the issue will be resolved in BJP’s favour.