Naveen cracks down on dissidents; suspends Pyari
Bhubaneswar: In a bid to nip in the bud dissidence in the ruling BJD, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday suspended Rajya Sabha member and dissidents' leader Pyari Mohan Mohapatra from the party and sacked two ministers.
Three days after an alleged aborted attempt to topple his government, Patnaik, who returned here from the UK yesterday cutting short his visit there, also announced suspension of MLAs Pravat Biswal and Bibhuti Balabantray after a day-long consultation with the senior party leaders and legislators.
The ministers who have been dismissed were Anjali Behera (Women and Child Development, cabinet) Sanjeev Sahu Commerce and Transport, Minister of State).
"I have forwarded a letter to His Excellency Governor of Odisha requesting him for dismissal of Smt. Anjali Behera as the cabinet minister and minister of state Sanjeev Sahu in the government," Patnaik told reporters.
Earlier in the day, Patnaik held a series of meetings with BJD leaders, some of whom claimed there was an attempt to topple the government during a meeting at party MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra's house.
A senior party leader said that besides interacting with leaders in groups, the CM held one-to-one meetings with party MLAs, including about 20 of those who had attended the meeting at the house of Mohapatra, a long-time strategist and adviser of ruling BJD.
Meanwhile reacting on the entire matter Patnaik had earlier said to a news agency in London, "I understand that in my absence an MP of my party is stirring trouble against my state government. And also trying to divide the Biju Janata Dal. This is deplorable."
"Yes, there was an attempt to topple the government in the absence of Naveen Patnaik when he was away in Britain. It was revealed by many BJD MLAs who attended the meeting at Mohapatra's house on Tuesday night", senior BJD leader and former minister Damodar Rout told reporters here.
Rout said most of the legislators further informed that they were asked to put their signature on a paper with some claiming that the exercise was aimed at giving their consent for making Mohapatra the BJD legislature party leader.
"I had been called to Pyari babu's house. When I reached there I saw others. I was asked to sign on a paper and later I found that it was meant for obtaining consent of MLAs for making Mohapatra the BJD legislature party leader", claimed Sushant Singh, MLA from Bhatli.
To a query, Rout also said the Congress had no role in the reported game plan to topple the Naveen government.
The meeting at the MP's house, held in the absence of Patnaik, had triggered speculation about cracks and a possible revolt in the ruling BJD though Mohapatra had on Wednesday ruled out any threat to Naveen government from him.
Patnaik returned here to a rousing welcome by thousands of partymen and supporters who took the chief minister in a grand procession from Biju Patnaik airport to Naveen Niwas amid bursting of crackers, beating of drums and blowing of conch shells.
The show by the partymen was to demonstrate their unflinching support for Patnaik.