Bhubaneswar, Feb 6:
In a development that smacked of gross opportunism and perhaps a quid pro quo, two independent MLAs – Jitu Patnaik from Champua and Braja Pradhan from Talcher today announced their decision to become associate members of the ruling Biju Janata Dal and vote for the BJD-supported independent candidate Raghunath Mohapatra for the fourth Rajya Sabha seat.
After meeting the chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the state secretariat, both Patnaik and Pradhan proceeded to Naveen Niwas, where the chief minister was in the waiting to welcome them.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, flanked by the two MLAs, then told the waiting media “I welcome both Jitu Patnaik of Champua and Braja Kishore Pradhan of Talcher to work for the uplift of the poor in their constituencies”.
There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that both of them had joined the Biju Janata Dal although neither the party president nor the two ‘freshers’ said so in as many words.
On being asked whether they had joined the BJD, both said that they would work as associate members and work for the development of their respective constituencies and give utmost priority to the development of the poor and that the chief minister had assured them of all help in this regard.
Both MLAs said they have accepted Naveen Patnaik as their leader and said they would be guided by their new leader’s decision when they cast their votes in the Rajya Sabha polls tomorrow.
One thing that none of the two was able to explain is why they had to seek chief minister’s support “for the development of their constituencies’ at the very end of their tenures as MLAs and most importantly, why just a day ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls !