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Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik’s announcement of party candidates for the upcoming Rajya Sabha by-elections and importantly, extending support to BJP’s RS candidate came as a big surprise for many. Many believe it is a calculated step to save his coterie group.

It is alleged that many a leader of the party’s coterie group are either involved in the multi-crore chit fund scam or in other controversial cases like the sunken MV Black Rose vessel case. With complete majority at the Centre, BJP is currently enjoying the absolute power and so it is believed that the Modi government may use CBI to hunt down the BJD leaders involved in scams if the regional party continues with its equidistant stance. Besides, the CM himself has been questioned by the CBI for his alleged involvement in coal scam.

Several leaders of the BJD are involved in different scams but the CBI is silent. PM Modi has kept the CBI sword hanging and hence, Naveen is trying to get closer to Modi, alleged Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik.

On the matter, BJP MP Suresh Pujari said, “PM Modi’s mantra is 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas aur ab Sabka Vishwas. Those who are coming to us only know with what intention they are coming. You should ask Naveen Babu about it,” said Pujari.

However, the BJD strongly refuted the allegations with the party MLA and Odisha Health Minister Naba Das stating that the BJD has nothing to fear.

“BJD believes in working for the people. A party which has come to power for the fifth time in the State that too with 112 seats (out of 147 Assembly seat in Odisha), should not be asked such questions,” he added.

On the other hand, chaos and confusion prevailed within the BJD after CM Naveen announced the RS nominees. When former Bhubaneswar MP Prasanna Patsani and Berhampur’s ex-MLA Ramesh Chandra Chayu Patnaik were denied tickets during the 2019 polls, the Odisha CM had promised them RS berth. However, it is believed that the BJD chief had made the promise only to avoid a possible dissidence which would have hurt the party during the elections then.

On the CM being called a ‘political opportunist’ political analysts believe that a coterie group is enjoying absolute power in Odisha without any interruption and the CM is working at their behest. “Had there been no fear of CBI and pressure of the coterie group, Naveen would have kept his words and never cheated party’s loyalists like Chayu Patnaik and Patsani,” they said.

Earlier, both Chayu Patnaik and Patsani had said that they have full faith on the CM that he would keep his promise made during pre-poll days. “When Naveen had visited Ganjam and Bikram Panda got Berhampur Assembly ticket, I was asked to work together and assured of Rajya Sabha seat. I am hopeful of being sent to the Upper House,” the former Berhampur MLA had said.

Following the announcement of party candidates for the Upper House on Friday, an upset Patsani said, “I am an old worker and never failed to do my duties. I am hurt but I will not quit the party and continue to work for it.”

However, the BJD is of the view that Naveen has gifted the RS berths to the party’s hard working members and the party will never betray anyone; and a decision on party’s senior leaders (Patnaik and Patsani) will be taken soon.

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