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BJP receives setback in Odisha with two leaders quitting

Press Trust of India  |  Bhubaneswar 

Former Union minister and Odisha MLA Dilip Roy and senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra resigned from the party Friday, dealing a blow to the saffron party ahead of the 2019 elections.

Besides sending a joint resignation letter to BJP president Amit Shah, Roy, who represents Rourkela constituency in the Odisha Assembly, also resigned as legislator.

Roy, once considered by many as the foster son of former chief minister Biju Patnaik, said he called on Assembly Speaker Pradip Amat Friday morning and tendered his resignation from the membership of the House.

The Speaker said he has accepted the resignation.

The development has sparked speculation that the two may stage a come back to the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), of which both were founding members. While Mohapatra was expelled from the BJD in 2000, Roy was thrown out two years later.

Roy is yet to spell his future political move. He, however, said that he has decided not to contest the 2019 Odisha Assembly election from Rourkela.

Assembly poll in Odisha is due around the time of the general election in the country next year.

The parting of the two leaders is bad for the BJP which is making a bid to capture power in Odisha.

But, Mohapatra said the political situation in the state is fluid at present and he would take a decision about the future course of action after a discussion with Roy.

A senior BJD leader said it was too early to draw conclusions. Any decision on inducting people into the party would be taken by Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik, he added.

"It is with deep anguish that I have decided to quit as the member of State Legislative Assembly as well as from the membership of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," Roy said in a twitter post.

The hotelier-turned-politician, who considered Biju Patnaik as his political mentor, had served as industries minister in Odisha when the legendary leader was the chief minister between 1990 and 1995.

His affinity to the late leader can be gauged from the fact that Biju Patnaik spent the last years of his life with him. Mohapatra also happened to be an influential minister during the period.

As a parliamentarian, Roy held several ministry portfolios. After the death of Biju Patnaik, Roy, along with other leaders like Mohapatra, had played a major role in the formation of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).

The two had of late turned critics of the BJP-led government at the Centre, alleging delay in construction of a second bridge over the Brahmani river, establishment of a super-speciality hospital in Rourkela and lack of job opportunities for local youths in the Paradip oil refinery.

Mohapatra told reporters that the interest of the state was important and their future course would be announced after about a fortnight.

Stating that joining the BJP was a wrong decision, he said he undertook several party activities during the initial years in the saffron party. However, involvement in party activities declined gradually, he said, adding that their suggestions and views were ignored by the party and they were sidelined.

In their resignation letter to the BJP national president, Roy and Mahapatra said, "We regret to state that despite repeated efforts in appraising you on the sorry state of affairs of the party here, neither you nor any senior central party leader bothered to consult, review or take corrective measures."

"Be it the Mahanadi water issue or the unfulfilled promised of a second bridge over the Brahmani river, the super-speciality hospital at Rourkela or the dreams of lakhs of jobs for Odia youth which we sold at Paradip during the inauguration of the Oil Refinery nothing, absolutely nothing materialised," it said.

The letter claimed that the people of Odisha were "disillusioned."

"Several leaders in the party here shared our concerns, but remain silent fearing denial of tickets.You would agree that such silence is a bad sign for any democratic party," it said.

Noting that they cannot be treated as "furniture" in the party, Roy and Mahapatra said,"As self respecting politicians with decades of service to Odisha, we refuse to continue in the party as showpieces ... For us, the interest of the state is supreme. We have never ever compromised our self-respect or the interest of the state for any post, power or ticket."

Describing defeat of the party with a margin of 40,000 votes at Bijepur bypoll as a "shocker", they said this reflected the "disenchantment" of the people with the BJP because of the manner in which the party was functioning.

Roy said due to the charismatic presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the progressive change of the BJP, he had envisioned development works for Rourkela and had promised to fulfil the long-ignored dreams and aspirations of the people who had reposed their faith in him.

"Now, I acknowledge my failure in living up to their expectations and therefore, taking the moral responsibility, I have decided to quit as the member of the state Legislative Assembly as well as from the membership of BJP," Roy said.

Reacting to the development, BJP state unit president Basant Panda said the party would not be affected by their resignation. Senior BJP leader Golak Mohapatra and BJP state vice president Samir Mohanty echoed similar views.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 30 2018. 19:06 IST