| Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik (centre) with former NCP legislators (from left) Ramchandra Hansda, Nabin Nanda, Amar Prasad Satpathy and Prashant Nanda. Telegraph picture |
Bhubaneswar, June 6: The saying that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies but only permanent interests has rung true once again with all the four Nationalist Congress Party MLAs of Odisha joining the Biju Janata Dal yesterday.
The move, dictated by naked opportunism, marks a marriage of convenience which appears to suit both the sides perfectly at the moment. The BJD, jolted as it has been by a failed coup attempt against chief minister Naveen Patnaik, needed the NCP legislators to boost its Assembly tally and hedge against misadventures of a similar kind in future.
The four NCP MLAs — Amar Prasad Satpathy, Nabin Nanda, Prashant Nanda and Ramchandra Hansda — also realised that they stood to gain much more by joining the BJD instead of supporting the government from outside as the members of a party which had but a tenuous base in the state. Both the sides found the move to be politically expedient and decided to sink the many differences they had in the past.
In the case of some of them, like film star-turned-politician Prashant Nanda, the differences with the chief minister were so strong that their relations had turned bitter to say the least. Prashant had made no bones about his dislike of the chief minister’s way of functioning when he was dropped as a minister in the BJP-BJD coalition government in 2001 on corruption charges.
Another veteran, Satpathy, too, had not taken kindly to his removal as agriculture minister in 2002 in the wake of an alleged scandal in the department. Later, he found himself “suffocated” in the BJD and quit. He won the 2009 elections on an NCP ticket with BJD support following rupture of the ruling party’s alliance with the BJP.
Similarly, Nabin’s relations with the BJD also became strained after he was denied a party ticket in 2004. But, the past has been given a decent burial in the changed political scenario.
The NCP MLAs, eager as they were to join the BJD, found a readymade excuse for doing so when the party’s national president and Union minister Sharad Pawar turned down their proposal for backing P.A. Sangma in the race to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Under normal circumstances, they would have taken Pawar’s snub in their stride, but having spotted an opportunity in the BJD’s crisis, they decided to snap their links with the NCP and start a new innings all over.