Pradeep Pattanayak

Ahead of the polling of votes for elections to 109 urban local bodies in Odisha, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has found itself in soup to contain rising dissidence among a horde of rebel leaders within the party.

In order to deal with the situation, the party has now adopted a no tolerance policy against the rebels instead of negotiations, as it opted to curb such dissidence during the recently concluded Panchayat Elections. 

Recent array of several suspensions of BJD leaders from the party fold indicate that the high command may be weeding out the unwanted players with an iron fist while at the same time maintaining a cautious approach in case of important faces. 

For example, consider the ouster of Arjun Behera from the post of Bhubaneswar Organisational District secretary post. After not getting a party ticket, Arjun has fielded his wife as an independent corporator candidate from Ward no-37 under the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC). However, now axe has fallen on Arjun after he refused to withdraw the nomination papers, despite several rounds of talk. 

“I came to know from the media that I have been suspended from the party for anti-party activities. But the allegations are not true. I have done nothing wrong in fielding my wife. I did this for the betterment of my ward,” said suspended leader Arjun.  

Arjun is not the single person to bear the wrath for going against the party line. Mamata Sahu and Banaja Mohanty of Ward no-41 have also been suspended from the Biju Mahila Janata Dal on charges of anti-party activities. 

Sources said, as many as 20 leaders have been suspended, alone in Bhubaneswar. 

The party is showing no leniency to such rebel leaders in Cuttack as well. Former BJD corportaor of Ward no-9 under the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC), Bikash Behera, who is in the fray as an independent candidate, has been shown the door.  

Bikash rued that he had been targeted for blowing the whistle on several corrupted leaders. 

Similarly, president of Cuttack Biju Yuva Janata Dal, and former State unit's vice president of Biju Yuva Janata Dal, Manojit Das has been suspended for the same reason of anti-party activities. 

In case of Lokanath Lenka, who is contesting the poll as an independent candidate from Ward no-39, the time has also brought the same fate. Initially, allotted ticket to fight the ULB Polls, Lenka was later robbed off the candidature and even suspended from the party. 

Similar action has also been taken against rebel leaders, supporters and candidates in Bhadrak and Kendrapara districts. 

Political experts say that during the run up to the election, dissident leaders have emerged as a source of headache for all parties. But the number of such candidates is comparatively more in the ruling party. 

Now, that it has been a tough task for the BJD to assuage their rebel candidates, the Conch party has also started acting against those whom it imported for sticking to their guns. 

Justifying the act, the party claims that the actions taken in most of the cases are disciplinary in nature and put against those who refused to toe the line of the leadership. The BJD has however exuded confidence that such actions will have no bearing on its poll prospects. 

“We are a disciplined party. Action has been taken against those who refused to abide by the discipline. It will not have any negative impact on people because they are with the party and Naveen Patnaik,” clarified BJD MLA Amar Prasad Satpathy.

However, analysts offer to differ with the BJD leaders on their claims of discipline within the party. 

“BJD has miserably failed in bringing back the dissidents to its fold. The rebel candidates have emerged as a source of annoyance for the Conch party. The fact that many are refusing to toe the party lines may pose a challenge to the party in the days to come,” opined political analyst Prasanna Mohanty.