A meeting of about 30 Biju Janata Dal legislators, including three ministers, at party MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra's house on Tuesday has triggered speculations about an imminent revolt in the party which has ruled Odisha for more than a decade.
The meeting, which started at the evening, ran well past mid-night.
The speculations have reportedly made chief minister and party president Naveen Patnaik to cut his London trip short. He is expected to return to Bhubaneswar on Wednesday, a party source said.
In view of the development, leaders loyal to Patnaik held another meeting at the chief minister's residence, Naveen Niwas. Large number of party workers assembled at the Naveen Niwas raising slogan of "Naveen Patnaik zindabad".
Party vice-president and former minister Damodar Rout told media persons the gathering at Mohapatra's house was uncalled for when Patnaik was on a foreign trip, his first since he became the chief minister. "It can be termed as anti-party activity," he said.
On the other hand, finance minister Prafulla Ghadei said that MLAs and ministers gathering at Mohapatra's house was not a new thing. "I have full faith that the party members who are holding the meeting in his house will not do anything that will hamper the party," he said.
Many MLAs, who attended the meeting at Mohapatra's house, said they wanted to discuss about the party's programme for the countrywide shutdown in protest against petrol price hike.
Party source however speculated that the meeting at Mohapatra's house was meant to remove Patnaik from chief ministership. The Mohapatra camp was expecting to bring more than 60 MLAs out of total 103 to its side to split the party.
A senior leader however said that it was not so easy to spilt the party at the moment as that would only make Patnaik a bigger hero in the eyes of the common people.
Patnaik and Mohapatra, a member of the Rajya Sabha, are two pillars of the BJD. While Patnaik is the public face of the party, Mohapatra is credited with the growth of the organisation.
Earlier, Mohapatra was described as Patnaik's friend, philosopher and guide and architect of BJD's rise to power. However, in the recent years, relations between Patnaik and Mohapatra are said to be strained and the former had started ignoring the latter, observers said.