Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday struck back at the dissidents in his party who had made an unsuccessful bid to dislodge him when he was away on an official tour to the UK. After day long consultation with his loyalist ministers, MLAs and MPs, Patnaik, who returned from London yesterday, has sacked two ministers and suspended two MLAs and the chief architect of the revolt Pyari Mohan Mohapatra from the party.
The ministers, who have been sacked from the ministry, are Anjali Behera, minister for women and child development and Sanjeev Sahu, minister of state for transport and commerce.
Apart from Mohapatra, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, the others suspended from ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), included two MLAs, Prabhat Biswal and Bibhuti Balbantray.Patnaik’s action pulled the plug on over a decade-long relationship with Mohapatra, who was once his closes confidante, controlling the entire party apparatus. "Today, I had discussions with senior members of the party- ministers, MLAs and MPs who had gathered at my residence. I have forwarded a letter to the Governor, requesting him to remove Cabinet minister, Anjali Behera and minister of state Sanjeev Sahoo.
As state president of BJD, I have also suspended MLA, Pravat Biswal and MLA, Bibhuti Balabantray and MP (Rajya Sabha) Pyari Mohan Mohapatra”, Patnaik told newspersons at the state secretariat.Reacting to the Chief Minister's decision, Mohapatra said, “I knew this (suspension) was going to happen. I have worked extremely hard for the party for 12 years and have now become the victim of a gang of conspirators”.
Even as Mohapatra cried hoarse over the predictable announcement, Bhubaneswar (Ekamra) MLA and one of Chief Minister's close aide- Ashok Panda welcomed the move.
" This decision is justified given the need to enforce party discipline and strengthening administration. I believe the Chief Minister has been guided by discussions that he held with ministers as well as party MPs and MLAs. The decision has proved, beyond doubt, that no leader, howsoever powerful, he may be, is above the party”, Panda said.It may be noted that the abortive coup hatched by Mohapatra, to unseat the BJP supremo while he was away on a maiden overseas trip, was unprecedented in his 12-year tenure as the Chief Minister. In the Chief Minister's absence, Mohapatra had assembled 30-odd legislators and three ministers at his residence, presumably to topple his government but fell short of the magical figure of 74 MLAs.One of the MLAs who gathered at rebel MP's residence later alleged that his signature was taken on blank paper to pledge support for the MP as leader of the BJD legislature party.
“I went to Pyari Mohapatra's residence as he had called me for some meeting. There he took signature of mine in a blank paper. Later, I found that the signature was taken to support him as the leader of BJD legislature party”, said Sushanta Singh, BJD MLA from Bhatli in Bargarh district.