By Subhransu Panda, Bhubaneswar:
- BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik gives green signal to estranged leaders
- Veteran leaders Prafulla Ghadai, Panchanan Kanungo, Bijay Mohapatra and Dilip Ray may make a comeback
There is a buzz about veteran BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra that he may make a comeback to Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the party may sport him for Rajya Sabha. He was ousted from BJD in 2000.
BJD chief and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has given a green signal to the erstwhile party leaders who either quit the party or were expelled in the past.
Today CM Patnaik told media persons,
It will be taken up on a case-to-case basis.
BJD supremo’s statement signaled hopes for many former BJD leaders, including former finance minister Prafulla Ghadai and Panchanan Kanungo, veteran BJP leaders Bijay Mohapatra and BJP legislator Dilip Ray and few others.
According to BJD source, the ousted party-men were never comfortable in other parties.
Former minister Raghunath Mohanty was also expelled from BJD after his daughter-in-law had lodged a torture for dowry case against him. He might now be allowed to return to the party since his daughter-in-law has reunited with her husband.
BJD vice-president and excise minister Damodar Rout opined,
If the old leaders return to the BJD, it will strengthen the party. This is not new in politics. Leaders do get expelled and return to their parent parties.
Rout further added,
Bijay Mohapatra and Dilip Ray originally belonged to Janata Parivar.
However after his ouster from BJD in 2000, Bijoy Mohapatra used to be very critical about the the party and the supremo.
Just before the filing of nominations came to an end for the Odisha Assembly elections of 2000, Mohapatra was expelled from the BJD and denied a ticket to contest the Patkura Assembly constituency by Naveen Patnaik. It is speculated that leaders like Pyarimohan Mohapatra had a role behind the ouster of Bijoy. Bijoy proceeded to support Trilocahan Behera of the Trinamool Congress, who won the seat by more than 40,000 votes over Atanu Sabyasachi, the official BJD nominee. The understanding was that Behera would vacate the seat for Bijoy, if he elected as the Chief Minister of the state.
However, supporters of Mohapatra in the BJD could not get a majority in the BJD legislature party in the 2000 elections. As a result, Navin Patnaik was elected as the leader of BJD legislature Party and a BJD-BJP government came to power in Odisha. After his failure to get the post of BJD legislature party, many of Mohapatra’s supporters in the BJD kept mum or even supported Naveen Patnaik.
In 2001, Bijoy formed Odisha Gana Parishad(OGP), a regional party. A majority of his supporters in the BJD did not join it, though, as they did not want to lose their power. The OGP formed an alliance with the Indian National Congress(INC) in the 2004 assembly elections, and got only four seats to contest. The Party won two of these seats, but Mohapatra narrowly lost his bid.
Due to financial constraints, Bijoy decided to merge his party with the NCP, and became its head in Odisha. However, before the 2009 elections, Sharad Pawar, NCP National President decided to ally with BJD. In protest, Bijoy resigned from NCP in 2009 and joined BJP.