Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 2:
It is not just Opposition stalwarts whom Naveen Patnaik does not want in the next Assembly. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo is apparently concerned over the victory of seven ‘troublesome’ leaders from his own party and has reportedly put in place a strategy to prevent their entry into the Assembly.
Concerned over the winning prospects of these leaders, Patnaik has directed his confidants to ensure their defeat in the ensuing Assembly elections, sources in the BJD said. These leaders are Priti Ranjan Ghadai, son of former minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadai, former minister Pradip Maharathi, Ranendra Pratap Swain and Ministers Damodar Rout, Maheswar Mohanty, Rabi Narayan Nanda and Arun Sahu, the sources said.
However, former minister AU Singhdeo, whose name was reportedly in the hit list of Patnaik, has been spared since he is pitted against senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra from Bolangir Assembly constituency. Of these two foes, Naveen is apparently more concerned about the winning of Mishra as he would create a hell of a problem for him in the State Assembly.
The sources said the BJD supremo had little choice but to give tickets to these party leaders as denial of tickets to them would have triggered intra-party squabble. But he does not want these leaders any more as they would be ‘too hot to handle’ for him in future, BJD sources said.
Barring a few, the remaining leaders belong to the erstwhile Janata Dal and close associates of former chief minister Biju Patnaik.
Aware that these leaders have the potential to raise the banner of revolt against him, Naveen has been able to keep them away from his party while he has taken away the powers of some leaders who are now in his party.