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Whip confusion in BJD

New Delhi, Nov. 19: Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s move to reinstall his loyalist and water resources minister Arjun Sethi as leader of the Biju Janata Dal parliamentary party has created a piquant situation.

BJD rebels today claimed that as Speaker Manohar Joshi has recognised Prasanna Acharya, whom they elected leader of the party in the Lok Sabha on September 17, the whip issued by their group was binding on Patnaik’s supporters also.

“As of now, if any of the four MPs, including the two Union ministers, Arjun Sethi and B.K. Tripathi, defy our whip, action could be taken against them,” said a dissident leader. Joshi is yet to recognise Sethi’s re-election.

The rebels — Acharya, Bhartuhari Mehtab, Prasanna Patsani and the three expelled MPs, Prabhat Samantray, Jagannath Mallick and Kumudini Patnaik — got a shot in the arm when the Speaker allowed them to hold a meeting in the BJD parliamentary party office.

One rebel said the chief minister, after getting Sethi re-elected in a “questionable” manner, had requested Joshi not to allow the expelled leaders from entering the office.

“Naveen Patnaik is president of the party but he is not authorised to convene the parliamentary party meeting as per the party constitution. The parallel meeting convened by him and attended by only four out of 10 is ultra vires,” Mehtab said.

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