Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has apparently survived a political coup while he was away on an eight day tour to London.
Patnaik, who is on his way back from London and is expected to reach Bhubaneswar tomorrow, was able to surmount the challenge to his post by a faction of MLAs following ground swelling of support to his leadership within the party, even in his physical absence.
Earlier last night speculations were rife in the capital city about a plot by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, a Rajya Sabha MP and senior party leader, to dislodge Patnaik as chief minister and form an alternative government with support from the Congress.
Mohapatra was a close confidante of Patnaik till recently and had fallen out with him on the eve of panchayat elections in the state in February, this year. After lying low for couple months, Mohapatra, feeling ignored and sidelined, had assembled his supporters at his residence last night where 33 MLAs including three ministers were present.
A signature campaign by Mohapatra supporters had led to the speculation that the rebels may split the party, which has 104 MLAs in the Assembly and stake claim to form a new government, either by themselves if they garner the support of 74 MLAs in the House strength of 147 or with support of the Congress which has 27 MLAs if they fall short of the magical figure.
This development had prompted the Naveen loyalists to contact the chief minister in London and go into a huddle at Naveen Nivas (chief minister’s residence) to devise counter strategies. About 45 MLAs and couple of MPs attended this meeting pledging their unstinted support for the chief minister. Patnaik, after being informed about the imminent political crisis, had also reportedly cut short his London trip and embarked on his return journey.The strength of Patnaik camp was bolstered further with 84 MLAs assembling at Naveen Nivas this morning and signing a petition owing their allegiance to his leadership.On the contrary, Mohapatra, after seeing the growing support for Patnaik and unable to garner the required support to topple the government, has climbed down from his aggressive stance against the BJD supremo. "These are (the revolt plan talk) are figments of imagination. There is no dissidence in the party. I have no intention to form an alternative government in association with any other political party, he told the media persons here on Wednesday. "The party is not functioning according to its constitution. The MLAs want that the party should adopt a more democratic approach “, Mahapatra said while informing about his discussions with the rebel MLAs and recording their presence by taking their signatures.
"There is no immediate threat to the government as of now. But if he (Patnaik) has to run the government smoothly, he should look after the party structure and governance. I believe he will take remedial measures after seeing this discontent”, he added.