Apolitical platform floated within BJD

Bhubaneswar: Disgruntled BJD stalwart, Damodar Rout, who was dropped from the Naveen Patnaik cabinet in May for objecting to `a second power centre` in Orissa today floated a `non-political` platform within the party. Launching the `Biju Bichar Manch (BBM)` ostensibly to spread the ideology of legendary Biju Patnaik in whose name the Bjiu Janata Dal was formed, Rout, the BJD Vice-President asked the chief minister to take full command instead of delegating authority to a `second power centre`.

Rout, who was opposed to BJD Rajya Sabha MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, considered a strategist for the chief minister, asked Patnaik "not to delegate authority to a second power centre." After being dropped on May 9 this year from the ministry, he had claimed that it was not the decision of the chief minister, but at the suggestion of `someone`, without naming the Rajya Sabha MP.

Rout had invited all in the ruling BJD including the chief minister save Mohapatra to the launch of the BBM , but mostly none turned up. Stating that he had no political ambition left after being MLA six times and a minister for over 12 years, he said, "Formation of BBM should not be considered as a political plan to acquire power."

Asked about the role of BBM in the ensuing panchayat elections due early next year, Rout said people would be asked to vote for honest persons who would look after their needs. Claiming that Biju loyalists were sidelined, Rout lamented that bitter critics of the legendary leader were prospering in the party and government. "The ideology of Biju Patnaik is being ignored in the party and government," he said. Criticising Rout, Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy said "he has launched the BBM to fulfil his one political desire."