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Naveen’s Delhi trip triggers gossip

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Odisha Sun Times Political Bureau
Bhubaneswar/ New Delhi, Apr 23:

The Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s decision to go on a 9-day trip to Delhi has triggered a host of speculations and gossip in the political circles in the state.

Sources in Naveen Niwas said the chief minister needed a break very badly after a long and hectic election campaign and insisted there is nothing more  to his Delhi trip than his need for some rest .

Picture Courtesy: newindianexpress.com
Picture Courtesy: newindianexpress.com

However, a senior BJD leader, wishing anonymity, told OST that the party supremo is deeply distressed over intelligence reports that the ruling party will not fare well in the elections. What has added to his woes are reports that a revolt is brewing within the party against certain party colleagues and officials close to him.

“Naveen Babu is seriously worried over the fall-outs of a possible truncated mandate for BJD. He anticipates a situation where he would be targeted not only by the opposition parties but also senior leaders of his own party.

One source says, Naveen is also mighty unhappy with his election managers including the ‘trusted’ officers, who he feels have let him down.

” He will consult his advisors in Delhi about the options left before him just in case he fails to win enough number of seats in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha and work out a plan of action to deal with the storm brewing within the party. There are also reports that some of his colleagues are in touch with the BJP and are looking forward to a situation where they can pose challenges to his leadership,” the source said.

A credible BJD source told OST, however, that Naveen will use his 9-day ‘holiday trip’ to take rest and discuss possible post-poll alliances at the Centre with both the  BJP and Third Front leaders- whether directly or through his ‘good friends’ during his stay.

” It’s only a matter of time, but we are sure we will form the next government,” a senior minister in Naveen’s cabinet said on Tuesday night. ” We are confident we will win at least 90 to 95 Assembly seats and 13 to 14 Lok Sabha seats. Naveen Babu is only being extra cautious, that’s all. He is not one bit nervous, as some would like to believe,” he said.

However, there are reports that a good number of BJD veterans are getting ready to question and undermine Naveen’s authority over the party, by not taking on him directly but by targeting ‘certain people’who are allegedly close to him.

” Naveen Babu is set to lose his authority over the party if he fails to win anything les than 95-100 seats. People (in the party) have been tolerating his haughty and autocratic ways because he keeps winning and is believed to enjoy the respect and support of a large majority of voters in Odisha. But once that myth expoldes, people will pounce on him,” a rebel BJD leader said.

According to a senior political observer, the fact that senior party leaders like Prafulla Ghadai and Kalindi Behera have gone public about their grievances against the party and its ‘new Chanakya’,  does not augur well for Naveen Patnaik and the BJD.

“This could snowball into a major confrontation between the ‘supremo’ and disgruntled party leaders if Naveen Patnaik fails to win a comfortable majority in the Assembly, ” he said.