Odisha Sun Times Political Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 21 :
Is it sheer accident that the names of as many as three Rajya Sabha MPs figure in the list of BJD candidates announced so far ? No, say political observers who believe it is part of Naveen Patnaik’s game plan to stock enough carrots to dangle before the potential rebels within the party.
“ Whatever the compulsions, Naveen Patnaik owes an explanation to the people in Odisha on why he has to fall back on his own Rajya Sabha MPs when his party is overloaded with imports from other parties and tinsel world as also whether it is fair to put the election machinery and state exchequer for petty political gains,” said a senior political observer.
First, the BJD named Rajya Sabha MP Dilip Tirkey as its candidate for Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat. Then on Thursday he named two more – Rabinarayan Mohapatra and AU Singhdeo as candidates for Rabpur and Bolangir Assembly seats respectively.
The questions that BJD leaders are asking is : why was AU Singhdeo sent to the Rajya Sabha around a time when the general elections were round the corner ? If Naveen wanted the senior vice-president of the party to stick his home turf in Bolangir, he could have chosen someone else in his place.
“ The decision to ask AU Singhdeo to quit his Rajya Sabha chair even before he could occupy it, smacks of highly irresponsible politics,” said a senior BJD leader not wishing to be named.
According to him, AU’s decision to return to state politics may have been ordered by the chief minister who wants to ensure the no-nonsense Congress stalwart Narasingha Mishra does not enter the Assembly and make his life miserable.
According to sources, Naveen Patnaik was alarmed by intelligence inputs that AU’s nominee for the Bolangir Assembly seat Harekrishna Sarangi would be easy meat for the veteran Congress leader while triggering revolt within the district party unit against the party candidate.
The relatively unknown Rabi Narayan Mohapatra, whose selection as a Rajya Sabha candidate two years ago had raised eyebrows across the political spectrum, has also been asked to contest the Ranpur assembly seat. In the first place, no one knows why an unknown BJD worker from Nayagarh was found fit to become a Rajya Sabha member and now, no one in the party is in a position to explain why he was brought back to fight an assembly seat.
Naveen Patnaik has made it clear that AU Singhdeo will resign as Rajya Sabha member. Will that happen in the case of Dilip Tirkey and Rabinarayan Mohapatra as well ? There is no indication so far that they will also put in their papers before facing the polls. No one again in the BJD is willing to reason out why only one of three Rajya Sabha members will resign and others won’t.
According to reliable sources, Naveen Patnaik’s game plan is to use the ‘vacant’ and ‘to be vacant’ Rajya Sabha seats as baits to lure the disgruntled senior leaders who will be deprived of their tickets.
With AU Singhdeo deciding to resign as Rajya Sabha member, there is at least one ‘prized post’ that has fallen vacant.
“That one seat is a good enough a bait to placate at least a dozen leaders and Naveen Babu can make sure they don’t become spoilsports during the polls,” a party insider said with a chuckle.