| Litmus test
Bhubaneswar, June 3: The failed mutiny has left chief minister Naveen Patnaik with the tough task of keeping his flock together while repairing the cracks already visible in the BJD.
The enormity of the task began to dawn upon the chief minister as he met party leaders, including senior ministers, MPs and MLAs, at his Naveen Nivas residence today, the second time in the last two days.
Sources said around 70 MLAs, MPs and district party unit presidents turned up for what was officially described as a meeting to discuss the outcome of Naveen’s London trip during which he held discussions with the Department for International Development (DFID) bosses and prized out some concessions for the state.
But, the real purpose of the gathering was to review the situation arising out of Tuesday’s failed coup against the chief minister led by his former confidant and Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra.
The stocktaking has become imperative for the chief minister in view of the defiant posture struck by Mohapatra, an IAS-turned-politician, who continues to make claims about having tacit support of a large number of MLAs. He is also making statements, suggesting that he may still have a few tricks up his sleeve.
Sources said the Naveen’s priority now was to purge the party of Mohapatra loyalists. But, this cannot be accomplished in one go as it may throw the BJD into a turmoil at a time when the party should begin preparations for the 2014 elections. The cleansing operation is also likely to take place in the bureaucracy and the police hierarchy where Mohapatra, the failed coup leader, wielded a lot of influence.
A minor rejig at the senior IPS level has already taken place with Abhaya, who was additional director-general (ADG), law and order being made the ADG, personnel yesterday. Three other senior IPS officers — S.S. Hansdah, M. Akshya and Dayal Gangwar — were also transferred.
Sources said director-general of police Manmohan Praharaj, who was close to Mohapatra, could be the next target. Speculation in this regard has picked up with senior IPS officer — Prakash Mishra, who currently on central deputation as director-general of the National Diasaster Response Force (NDRF) — today meeting the chief minister at Naveen Nivas.
“We are now trying to find out if there was any complicity of senior police officials in the coup attempt. It is really intriguing that the Intelligence failed to inform the government in time about what was cooking in the Mohapatra camp. But for the alertness of some of our leaders, the mutineers would have succeeded,” said a senior BJD leader.
Senior party leaders admitted that the situation was tricky as most of the BJD district units were riven by dissension and infighting. While in Jagatsinghpur former agriculture minister Damodar Rout and local MLA Bishnu Das, a staunch follower of Mohapatra, do not see eye to eye, Cuttack Sadar MLA Pravat Biswal, now a suspended from the party, and Cuttack-Choudwar MLA Debasis Samantray have also been at each other’s throats for past sometime.
Similarly, in Jajpur district, while former ministers Pramila Mallick and Debasis Nayak are at daggers drawn, finance minister Prafulla Ghadei is not on the best of terms with many of his colleagues.
With trouble also expected in certain other districts such as Sundergarh, Keonjhar and undivided Ganjam, the chief minister, from now on, has to take each step with extreme care.