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Coup carves Biju Dal

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 17: In a stunning coup against Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik, the 10-member parliamentary party of Biju Janata Dal, a constituent of the NDA, split tonight. Six MPs broke away and sought recognition from Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi as a separate group.

The split, capping months of dissidence in the party, was effected by Prasanna Patsani, Prasanna Acharya, Bhartruhari Mahatab, Prabhat Samantray, Kumudini Patnaik and Jagannath Mallick, who met in Mahatabís residence in New Delhi this evening. They adopted a resolution removing Union water resources minister Arjun Charan Sethi as BJD parliamentary party leader and appointed Acharya in his place.

Mahatab, the Cuttack MP, was elected chief whip of the splinter group.

Patnaik, Samantray and Mallick had been suspended from the BJD on August 9 for indulging in anti-party activities.

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