May 29, 2012 triggered tremors & aftershocks even felt today
Bhubaneswar: Two dates are of paramount importance for the Biju Janata Dal. December 26, 1997 and May 29, 2012. The BJD was founded on December 26, 1997 and every year, it has become customary for the BJD leaders to reiterate their commitment to follow the footprints of the venerable Biju Patnaik on this day. May 29, 2012 is equally significant. The BJD affairs have never been same again after May 29 triggered seismic changes within the party and the aftershocks can even be felt today.
The “midnight operation” of May 29 ended the dual power structure within the BJD which forced many party leaders to do the balancing act between Naveen Patnaik and Pyari Mohapatra for almost ten years, albeit reluctantly.
For nearly a decade, Pyari called the shots in BJD. Pyari was even not shy of flaunting his powers as BJD leaders jostled with each other to get his blessings. For BJD leaders, Naveen and Pyari had become inseparable twin pillars of the party to whom they had to pay equal allegiance. But the course of BJD history changed after nearly 30 MLAs trooped into Pyari’s residence on that fateful night of May 29. An audacious plan was allegedly set in motion by Pyari on May 29 to oust Naveen Patnaik when he was on an official trip to UK, his first foreign tour since 2000.
Pyari, of course, has always refuted reports that he was plotting a midnight coup to oust Naveen from power while the CM had gone abroad. But some MLAs who had gone to Pyari’s residence on May 29 had a different tale to tell and it finally sealed his fate. Pyari was first suspended and subsequently expelled from the BJD and ever since he is sniping ceaselessly at the CM.
Pyari has set his sights on the 2014 polls to turn the tables against Naveen. The Rajya Sabha MP has exuded confidence that the Odisha Jana Morcha, which he has floated, will win at least 25 seats in the 2014 polls. Pyari has gone a step further to predict that OJM will play the role of a kingmaker in 2014.
Naveen seems to have learnt some bitter lessons from the alleged coup of May 29. The CM has not allowed another BJD leader to step into Pyari’s shoes. The concept of dual power structure in the BJD has been consigned to the dustbin once and for all. The 2014 polls will now determine whether Pyari will make a return with all guns blazing or he will slowly fade into obscurity.