Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the much awaited Panchayat polls knock at the doors of political parties in Odisha, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems to be imploding with infighting in the ranks which cropped up recently amid demands of Minister Dibya Shankar Mishra’s removal from the State Cabinet.

From BJD leader and Khandapada MLA, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik’s editorial in an Odia daily, to a dispute between two factions of BJD in Baliguda. Kandhamal, the infighting in BJD has paved way for speculations that the overtly tightly-knit regional party has indeed many gaping holes that the Opposition can cash on.

Things became murkier with Soumya Ranjan Patnaik’s editorial slamming the BJD for shielding its Minister whose alleged involvement in the murder of Kalahandi eacher Mamita Meher has raised questions over the Chief Minister's sincerity in following his policy of zero tolerance against women's atrocity.

Attacking the BJD over Mamita murder case, the lawmaker from Khandapada termed CM Naveen Patnaik's political approach as 'double standard'.

In his editorial column 'Ama Ghara Halchal' published in Odia daily, Sambad, Soumya termed Dibya Shankar's clarification after nearly three weeks of the ghastly murder as the one that seeds more confusion. Asif responding to Soumya, another newspaper published a counter editorial accusing the BJD MLA of putting his selfish interests ahead of the Party's.

“He (Soumya) never comes to Khandapada to take stock of the ground situation. His ill intentions to target the party leadership is only aimed at blackmailing them into offering him a cabinet berth is totally unacceptable,” said former MLA of Khandapada, Anubhav Patnaik.

Similarly, two factions of BJD faced off at Baliguda when party observer for Kandhamal and Cabinet Minister Pratap Jena visited on Monday. The fracaces were brought under control only after Jena threatened to boycott the meeting if hooliganism was not stopped, but not before the warring factiins lodging FIRs against each other.

Likewise, former MLA and BJD observer for Kendrapara, Debasis Samantray accused another MLA from the party of meddling in the affairs of other constituencies which he does not represent. Sources said Samantray was hinting at Patakura MLA, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak who he charged of allegedly trespassing boundaries and poking his nose in the affairs of other constituencies.

Apart from this, instances of infighting have risen in other Constituencies too. However, the party vehemently denied the reports. BJD MLA, Latika Pradhan said, “This is not infighting. It is all about how well the leaders can manage affairs between themselves.

Despite all the tall claims by the BJD leaders that all is well in the party, experts say if the infighting did not get suppressed it can give rise to an uprising later which will not be a good sign for the Naveen Patnaik government.

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