Is Pyari Mohan shooting in the dark?



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The showoff drama between Biju Janta Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik and his erstwhile advisor Pyari Mohan Mohapatra has not only come onto the streets but it has generated an air of lowness that does not suit the image of either of the two warring gentlemen. The show down had its origin dating back to May last year when Mohapatra wanted to ride on the crest of an implausible ambition for power but failed. In response the BJD planned its retaliation in a manner, phase by phase, that smacked of the mix of fear and ferocity. Or at best it can be described as ` offence is the best defence’, intentionally orchestrated to singe the political faculty of the detractors by BJD chief Naveen Patnaik.

The overhyped `mahasamavesh` of OJM (on October 28), in a section of the media, that surely is not going to be a game changer overnight, did instill a fear of sorts in the BJD camp. This fear was explicitly visible on many occasions.

This write-up does not intend to judge who is right and who is wrong. If seen in the political perspective Mohapatra might be in the wrong for his method of the planned revenge and bit of over-speak attitude. And he can be also blamed for weathering the wrongs committed by Naveen Patnaik in last 12 years, as he says. Or was it a compulsive silence by Mohapatra waiting for the right time to hit back? Whatever it may be, but his intensions were clear on May 29 midnight coup attempt to throw Naveen out of power. A coup, if it had succeeded, could have gone down as an unprecedented event in the history of Odisha politics. However, it failed.

But if come to the points raised by Pyari Mohan, one may say that he is not totally incorrect, even if his way of dealing with the topic might be seen as an after-thought or an off-shoot of his frustration with Naveen. He is right that every party functions within the parameters of a constitution framed - else it can assume an autocratic shape. No leader can tread through the adversities of party politics without consensus. If that was really ignored, Pyari Mohan has a point. His intent is absolutely correct but why did he rise to the occasion so late? In that case, he could have simply detached himself from the BJD then, but the failed coup, notwithstanding his denials, was a clear manifestation of a dangerous political zeal.

However, Mohapatra has so far not touched some of the most pertinent issues that Naveen Patnaik is most uncomfortable with. The series of scams in Odisha that have surfaced during the period he was closeted with Patnaik. At no occasion has he uttered anything about them. Even to queries by the media on mining scam and so on, he chose to be silent or just parried the questions. This in turn has obviously raised questions as to why has he decided to undermine such nexus between politicians, businessmen and of course the bureaucracy.

He does owe a clarification. If not then he has lost the moral legitimacy to adhere to the method of only anti-Naveen overtures at every show.

If Pyari Mohan has contributed immensely to the BJD in last 12 years, he has also gained no less. In the entire composition of politics, he was perhaps the principal architect of all the contents and Naveen was simply the form. If Naveen was autocratic, then Pyari Mohan was his oxygen. He was a party to all good and bad things those figured in the itinerary.

If the sources in BJD are anything to go by, then the climate in the party during the pre-coup phase was somewhat `autocratic `, in essence, when the voices of the party leaders and workers were stymied by an unspoken ruthlessness. And in the post-coup phase it is no better. Except during the initial moments after Patnaik`s return from UK to the rousing welcome from the airport to his residence, the Odisha Chief Minister was seen very close to his party colleagues - back-patting and rubbing shoulders, even allowing them an unhindered access into his residence. But behind that show of confidence and the overdose of homilies, the fear and suspicion within Patnaik was so endemic that perhaps he dreads his own shadow now.

The latest chatter in the BJP grapevines is that even senior ministers reaching Naveen’s residence are normally dismissed after brief talks and not allowed into the war-room. An absolute imperious disposition prevails at his private territory.

Coming back to Pyari Mohan`s latest goof up - that through the OJM he is trying to instill democracy into the BJD - has few buyers. Instead of shooting in the dark he should be straight that he is going to trouble Naveen in the coming polls by either fielding OJM candidates or stitching an alliance with others parties like the Left, the SP and the BSP, who have just a signboard presence in the state.

Pyari knows many in the BJD are just suffocating in their plain `dhoti-kurta ` designation as ministers to whom even a DM does not give a damn. They appear completely detached from the system in a way. So, in the middle of these extremes are small but budding middle-order leaders who may have an eye on an alternative in the long run. Some senior BJD leaders also might get their wings clipped further in the race to 2014 elections and then Pyari can provide them the shelter home.

Given an air of remorse in the Congress party it would not be wrong to say that among many leaders in Odisha, visibly uncomfortable with the incumbent PCC leadership, there is a growing reservation towards the dynasty rule from Delhi. The latest Cabinet rejig within the UPA at the Centre has left the young and old turks in Congress baffled. More the state unit is ignored, more the trust deficit among the Congress leaders in Odisha. They are surely not in a position to play any game of political perceptions to influence their high command and back home they are never prepared to be the easy victims of Naveen Patnaik`s political charity or by the deception of Biju Patnaik nostalgia.

These people can find some shred of comfort in an alternative forum in times to come. Pyari Mohan knows he may not win a Assembly seat in Bhubaneswar in 2014 polls but he can make that seat difficult for the BJD. That seems to be his immediate goal. He does not seem to be consumed by the fiery greed of reckless advances in the 2014. What Pyari Mohan lacks terribly is the art of political speech and a few claps to drive him to get carried away by his own not-so-rich rhetoric.