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Dissidence gathering steam in Odisha ruling party

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, Aug 10:

Having tasted blood after managing to cut to size Rajya Sabha member Kalpataru Das, who had emerged as the go-to man in the BJD in the run up to the elections and even after that, on the discretionary allotment issue, the dissidents in Odisha’s ruling party are now planning to tighten the screws around the beleaguered leader.

Prafulla Ghadai
Prafulla Ghadai

The dissidents, sidelined by party supremo Naveen Patnaik during the elections and the formation of the government, are now mustering the courage to challenge the group led by Das, which had come to call the shots in the party and the government.

According to sources, Kendrapada MP Baijayant Panda and former finance minister Prafulla Ghadai held an hour- long discussion at the latter’s house on Saturday apparently to create a pressure group within the party to corner the other faction which has been ruling the roost so far.

However, it is not known what exactly transpired between the two leaders as both avoided the media after the discussion. “Since he (Panda) was going to New Delhi on the way to my house, he probably had come to see me as I am suffering from fever. There was no discussion besides this,” said Ghadai without divulging much about the meeting.

A meeting of BJD leaders was also held at the residence of senior party leader and Cooperation minister Damodar Rout the same day.

Several disgruntled leaders in the party have apparently joined these leaders in a show of strength. While some are openly criticizing the government for its failure,others are adding fuel to fire from behind the scene.

“The party is now dominated by two factions. One group is led by Kalpataru, who had come to enjoy enormous power after the BJD came to power for the fourth consecutive time in the state. Some of the leaders in this faction have also been inducted in the ministry and given crucial portfolios without having any experience. The other group consists of dissidents, who were cornered either during the election by being denied tickets or during the ministry formation by not being given plum portfolios or by being denied a ministerial berth altogether,” said a senior BJD leader, who declined to be named for obvious reasons.

It is to be noted that Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathy had stated that there a conspiracy is being hatched by some party leaders against chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Ghadai, Kalindi Behera, Rabinarayan Nanda and several senior leaders, besides the eight former MPs who were denied tickets during the 2014 elections have now joined the dissident ranks. The others in the group are Pratap Jena, Ranendra Pratap Swain and Debasish Nayak, who were aspirants for ministerial berths, but were denied by the party supremo. They had repeatedly put the government on the defensive during the recently concluded Assembly session.