Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, May 29:
Exactly two years after the event that marked the most significant challenge to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s hitherto unbridled exercise of power, the man at the center of it has spoken out.
In an interview to a local television channel, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, Naveen’s one time Man Friday, has revealed that the Chief Minister had called him from London on the evening of May 29, 2012 to ask him about the coup he was allegedly plotting against him.
“The Chief Minister had called me from London. He asked me satirically; ‘You are my guru. Why are you doing this while I am not in town? You are trying to grab the Chief Minister post. You can’t be my permanent Guru.’ I responded saying ‘If that is what you think, then so it be’,” he said.
The onetime chief strategist of BJD vehemently denied the charge that he had tried to dethrone Naveen. “Had I tried to unseat Naveen Patnaik, I could have unseated him in 2009 and in 2012 as well by taking party MLAs outside the state instead of keeping them at my house. All that I wanted to do was the show that despite his injunction, the 33 MLAs who gathered at my place were with me,” said Mohapatra.
Revealing the trust deficit between the two that had clearly become unbridgeable before the eventual parting of ways, the Rajya Sabha member said; “Naveen Babu believed that I had siphoned away Rs 500 crore from the party funds. Had that been the case, why would I have struggled to provide even elementary campaign expenses to my candidates?”
Notwithstanding the disastrous performance of his party, Odisha Jan Morcha (OJM), in the just concluded election, the former mentor to Naveen boasted that like the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, the party would emerge as a viable alternative to the BJD someday.
In a stinging rebuttal of Mohapatra’s utterances, BJD leader in Rajya Sabha Kalpataru Das, who has effectively replaced him as the second most powerful person in the ruling party, said; “The last two years have conclusively proved that the people of the state have completely rejected his ranting against Naveen Patnaik. Forget the BJD, he is not acceptable to any other party in the state as was proved in the last election.”