Odisha Sun Times Political Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 26:
The explanation offered by the Finance minister Pradip Kumar Amat, who will be representing Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the swearing-in ceremony of prime minister designate Narendra Modi, that the latter was not in a position to attend the big event because of the election of the Speaker scheduled for the day, is being described as a ludicrous and lame excuse.
“Only the most credulous would buy this argument for the simple reason that the BJD nominee for the Speaker’s post is set to be elected unopposed. They have as many as 117 MLAs in the 147-member House. Is there any reason whatsoever to believe the chief minister is under any kind of pressure or apprehension that prevents him from being in Delhi?” asked a senior Congress leader.
” The BJD could have manufactured a more acceptable explanation for Naveen Patnaik’s inability to attend this important national event.That it came up with such a lame excuse exposes the lack of courage and the political honesty on the part of its leadership, ” another senior Congress leader told OST.
” A massive mandate in their favour, which was far in excess of even their own best estimates, may have led the BJD leadership to believe they can get away with just any rubbish. But they must know, 56% of the state’s voters have seen through their game, ” the leader said.
Interestingly, chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who until the counting day kept saying it was too early to spell out the party’s stand on the NDA or the Third Front, chose not to say a word about it even after the issue was discussed threadbare in the meeting of BJD MPs at his residence on Saturday.
A senior BJD leader conceded that Naveen’s decision not to attend Modi’s coronation was more out of fear than conviction.
” He does not want to appear as someone who is either scared or dismissive of the Modi government, because both options are fraught with risk, ” he said.
One source in Delhi alleged the BJD supremo had used his ‘friends’ in BJP’s top brass to lobby against the lone BJP MP from Odisha Jual Oram and wanted ‘someone else’ to be in the Team Modi.
” When that did not work, he wanted to at least make sure Oram does not get cabinet status, something that he had succeeded in doing in the case of Srikant Jena in 2009 through his friends in the Congress,” the source alleged, adding Jena, who had earlier been a cabinet minister, was forced to reconcile with the indignation of having to work under a political greenhorn as a minister of state.
It is no secret that Naveen has ‘great friends’ in both the Congress and the BJP.
A disgruntled BJD leader told OST the BJD supremo has been deliberately adopting a ‘neither here nor there” policy and in the process enjoying the best of both the worlds.
“On the one hand, he proclaims he is ‘equidistant’ from the BJP and the Congress and on the other, he uses his clandestine links with ‘ friends’ in both parties to make sure his personal and political interests are protected “, he alleged.
” Naveen Patnaik’s reticence over the issue of taking a definite stand vis-a-vis the BJP-led NDA while dropping more than broad hints that he is game, is the hall mark of a brand of politics for which the best ideology or ‘ism’ is opportunism,” he charged.