Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: With veteran Bijay  Mohapatra mollified and back in the BJP fold there is intense speculation about the possible return of his comrade-in-arms, former union minister, Dilip Ray to the party.

Ray, who was elected to the state assembly from Rourkela on a BJP ticket in 2014, had quit the party miffed at the inordinate delay in the construction of the second bridge over river Brahmani in the steel township and conversion of Ispat General Hospital (IGH) into a super-speciality hospital. These were election promises made by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and their non-fulfilment hurt Ray.

The hotelier-turned-politician had a feeling that he was deliberately being ignored by the BJP leadership  because  a coterie in the state party unit did not want to see him rise in political stature. Considering that Ray’s relations with union tribal affairs minister and Sundergarh MP, Jual Oram have always been cordial the common guess was that he was hinting at the other union minster, Dharmendra Pradhan and his followers when referring to the vested interests in the BJP.

Pradhan’s relations with Mohapatra had also been less than cordial. In fact, it was the growing rift between them that led to the Kendrapara veteran’s resignation from the party. Having worked together under Biju Patnaik  Mohapatra and Ray, despite the age difference, enjoy a good understanding. They had not only joined the BJP together but were also following a common strategy within the party.

This is the reason why Ray’s reported meeting with chief minister, Naveen Patnaik a few weeks ago had set off speculation about both him and Mohapatra joining the ruling BJD. However, while Ray’s political fate continues to be uncertain Mohapatra, his “ elder brother”, is back in BJP.

So will Ray follow suit? There can arguments both for and against this possibility. The negative argument revolves around the premise that the issues on which Ray had resigned from the BJP still stand. There has neither been any significant development on the super-speciality hospital front nor on the second Brahmani bridge.

If the former union minister returns to the saffron fold without having his grievances redressed it would be a major loss of face for him and would bring him a few notches down in the eyes  of  the  people of Rourkela who had hailed the manner in which he had quit the party to uphold the principle of “ mati tebe parti” ( homeland comes before party).

Before stepping down as an MLA Ray had addressed his constituents through a highly emotional letter that had made him a hero of sorts for them. Hence returning to the saffron fold without getting the Prime Minister’s twin election promises fulfilled would not only mean swallowing his pride but also cheating the people of the city.

On the other hand, the BJP leadership, like in the case of Mohapatra, could persuade him to cast sentiments aside and look at the practical side of things. It could welcome him back into the party fold with an assurance to redress his grievances. It would be then for Ray to take a call. There is also a third possibility—the veteran from Rourkela may choose to remain politically non-aligned and watch these elections from the sidelines.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)