BHUBANESWAR: It seems BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has fallen out with the ‘parallel power centre in the party’, strategist and ideologue Pyari Mohan Mohapatra.
The announcement of two Rajya Sabha nominees, former Indian hockey team captain Dileep Tirkey and Nayagarh district unit president Rabi Narayan Mohapatra, by Chief Minister Patnaik when Mohapatra is in Delhi for the last several days has sparked rumours that everything is not well between the two decision-makers in the party.
What has come as a surprise is the CM’s announcement that the party will not field a third candidate in the March 30 Rajya Sabha polls. This is clearly seen as a rebuff of Mohapatra’s style of functioning. Sources said that the Rajya Sabha MP wanted a third candidate to be fielded, but his advice was ignored.
Campaign for the Athgarh Assembly by-poll brought to the fore the differences between the two leaders. Unlike in the past, Patnaik has taken full charge of campaigning and directed senior ministers to campaign in the constituency ever since Mohapatra made it be known that he will not campaign.
In what is perceived in political circles as a clear sign of cracks in their relationship, Patnaik campaigned in Athgarh with known Pyari-detractor Damodar Rout and other senior party leaders in tow. Even though Mohapatra asserted that there were no differences between him and the CM, developments in the recent past have lent enough grist to the rumour mill that something is amiss.
It all started with the selection of former minister Ranendra Pratap Swain as BJD’s candidate for the by-poll. Sources said the decision was taken by Patnaik without any consultation with Mohapatra.
Patnaik also went through the tedious job of selection of candidates for the post of Zilla Parishad presidents in consultation with MLAs, district leaders and elected panchayat representatives. This is for the first time that Patnaik had a direct interaction with party’s elected panchayat representatives. Sources said that earlier these detail jobs were handled by Mohapatra.
Mohapatra, however, told this paper that he would not be campaigning for the party candidate in the by-poll. The Rajya Sabha MP said since he had campaigned against Swain then, he will not campaign there in his favour now. “How can I request people to vote for him when I have given speeches against him in the past,” he said and added that many leaders of the party have done so in the past.
He said that he has already informed about his decision to the CM as well as the candidate and apprised them of the reasons behind it. There is also no need for so many leaders to campaign for Swain in the bypoll as he is going to win anyway, he said and added that Patnaik’s campaign will be more than enough.