Loyal BJD legislators await Naveen`s return

Over 60 party legislators gathered at CM`s residence to express loyalty to him.

Bhubaneswar: A day after some BJD MLAs met party MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra fuelling speculation of dissidence, over 60 party legislators on Wednesday gathered at the residence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is away in London, to express loyalty to him.

"Naveen Patnaik is the supreme leader in the BJD. More than 60 MLAs and ministers are waiting at Naveen Niwas for the chief minister to return," BJD Vice-President Damodar Rout told reporters here.

Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai said of the 104 MLAs of the party, over 60 were at Naveen Niwas and more would arrive.

Significantly, Housing and Urban Development Minister Sarda Nayak, Transport Minister Sanjeev Sahu, Women and Child Development Minister Anjali Behera and Energy Minister Atanu S Nayak, who attended the meeting at Pyari Mohan Mohapatra`s house in Saheed Nagar last night, were not seen at Naveen Niwas.

Four MLAs, who attended the dissident camp meeting, however, were also present at Naveen Niwas.
The BJP MP, on his part, claimed that he was unaware of reports that legislators close to him were holed up at a luxury hotel here.

The CM was expected to return to Bhubaneswar soon.

"It is not practically possible to reach here from London quickly. Patnaik is likely to return tomorrow," an official at the Chief Minister`s Office (CMO) said.

Yesterday, the CM had told a news agency in London that in his absence an MP of his party was stirring trouble against his government and trying to divide the BJD which was deplorable.
Earlier, Mohapatra said "There is absolutely no threat to Naveen Patnaik from me. He is completely safe as chief minister as he is the leader of the BJD."