Patnaik examining demand for Routs suspension

Bhubaneswar: Amidst demands to suspend one-time loyalist and former Orissa minister Damodar Rout from the post of vice-president of the BJD on disciplinary grounds, Chief Minister and party leader Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said the issue was being looked into.

"Rout has made certain statements in television and newspaper. I am examining the matter," Patnaik told reporters here.

Rout, who had been dropped as a minister on May 9, had yesterday alleged that the chief minister was implementing the agenda of party MP Pyari Mohan Mohaaptra instead of taking his own decision.

Rout`s arch rival and Jagatsinghpur MLA Bishnu Das demanded suspension of the ex-minister from the post of vice-president following his criticism of the party authority.

Seeking action against Rout for his utterrance against the party leadership, new Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy also challenged the BJD strongman to resign from the party and contest polls as independent candidate.

Howver, Rout had categorically announced that Naveen Patnaik was his leader even after he was sacked from the Cabinet.

Rout had been loyal to Patnaik and stood by the chief minister on many ocassions like farmer suicide case, mining and dal which rocked the state, a party insider said adding the ex-minister`s only fault was he did not respect Mohapatra, seen as advisor to the party supremo.

"People of Orissa have voted for Naveen Patnaik and not Pyari Mohan Mohapatra. Patnaik also enjoys support of 103 MLAs in a house of 147. Therefore, he should take his own decision instead of implementing Pyari`s aganda," Rout had told reporters yesterday.

Rout had also alleged sidelining of old Biju Patnaik`s loyalists in the government and the party while others like Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, a retired IAS officer, were calling the shots.

Earlier, Patnaik had punished veteran leaders like Bijy Mohapatra, Dilip Ray, Nalini Kanta Mohanty, Ramakrushna Patnaik, Kamala Das and others over some charge or other.

Though all the leaders were critical of Patnaik after their removal from the party, Rout was perhaps the only leader of Biju Patnaik era who held Mohapatra responsible for his fate.

Meanwhile, Rout was receiving phone calls from a number of party leaders opposed to Pyari Mohan Mohapatra in the BJD, sources said.