Cracking the whip on party leaders, who allegedly tried to overthrow his government, Odisha chief minister and Biju Janata dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik suspended five leaders, including his one-time mentor Pyari Mohan Mohapatra and two ministers.
Cabinet minister Anjali Behera (women and child development) and minister for state Sanjib Sahu (transport and commerce) were sacked from their ministerial posts, while two first-time MLAs — Prabhat Biswal and Bibhuti Balabantrai — have also been suspended from the party.
An angry Mohapatra reacted sharply and called Patnaik a traitor on Friday. “I have worked hard for the party for the last 12 years. But now I am being victimised by Patnaik's coterie,” he said.
Until a few months ago, Mohapatra, BJD’s Rajya Sabha member, was seen as the one of the most powerful leaders in the party (after the CM).
Action against Mohapatra comes after Patnaik got reports on how the bureaucrat-turned-politician tried to stage a coup within the party while the CM was away on an eight-day tour of Britain.
In his meetings with party colleagues, many MLAs reportedly told Patnaik how they were allegedly “pressurised and confined in a hotel” to revolt and sign letters supporting Mohapatra as their legislative party chief.
Patnaik reportedly wanted to know whether Mohapatra should be given a ‘slow (political) death’ or an ‘instant’ one along with some other rebels. To which, some of the loyalists reportedly demanded an exemplary punitive action against Mohapatra so that no one in the BJD ‘dares to stage a coup’ at the behest of political opponents in future.
Patnaik listened to the different opinions but preferred not to say much in the meetings. He, however, assured the BJD leaders that the right decision would be taken at the right time.