The violence against Christians in Kandhamal was one of the key reasons why the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ended its 11-year-old alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Orissa. Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, a leader just a rung below Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik in the BJD hierarchy, hinted at Kandhamal while citing “the BJP’s experiments in Orissa” killed the alliance.
Mohapatra, the principal secretary to chief minister Biju Patnaik in the 1990s, has emerged as the chief architect of the BJD’s election strategy.
Participating in a panel discussion aired on Orissa Television, Mohapatra said, “In the last five years, the BJP has not been able to put its house in order. It is losing popular support. Secondly, the BJP also started experimenting in Orissa.”
Although Mohapatra did not spell out Kandhamal, he said, “Communal forces won’t be accepted by the people of a culturally rich state like Orissa. Because of their experiments, the BJD would have suffered losses.”
So, why did BJD partner the BJP, whose Hindutva agenda is well known? “When the NDA was formed, the BJP agreed to drop its controversial agenda. They were ready to work according to the National Agenda for Governance. Despite that, they decided to experiment in Orissa.”
The BJD, BJP agreement over seats stood strong for five elections — the 2000 and 2004 Assembly polls and Lok Sabha polls in 1998, 1999 and 2004.
“In 1998, the seat-sharing ratio was fixed soon after the BJD was formed. The party did not have the necessary bargaining power. The formula remained unchanged in 2004 as there was not much time to re-examine the issue. The political scenario now is entirely different. Our BJD has gained in stature and strength since 1998,” Mohapatra, a Rajya Sabha MP, said.
Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s international president Ashok Singhal held a press conference in Bhubaneswar to launch a scathing attack on Patnaik for being unable to arrest the real killers of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. It his murder that had sparked the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, in which 38 people died.