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Naveen cautious to parivar call

Bhubaneswar, June 7: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, being aware that he cannot afford to put a foot wrong, today reacted cautiously to the statements of some senior BJD leaders about the party welcoming back members of the larger Biju Parivar.

“I understand that some persons, who have left the BJD, wish to return. I shall examine the matter,” said Naveen even as party sources said that yesterday’s statement by two senior ministers Prafulla Ghadei and Prasanna Acharya, both vice-presidents of the party, had set the cat among the pigeons.

Sources said the two ministers, who apparently read a bit too much into the chief minister’s anxiety about strengthening the BJD in the wake of the failed coup against him, had spoken out of turn. “The chief minister had a word with them. They have been asked to guard against such tendencies,” said a senior party leader.

A senior BJD leader, who was not willing to be quoted, said many in the party had not taken kindly to the idea of extending an open invitation to the members of the Biju Parivar, an euphemism for disgruntled leaders, who had quit the party in the past, as it was fraught with danger.

“Not all of them were victims of supposed machinations of the failed coup leader, Pyari Mohan Mohapatra. Some had left on their own following serious differences with the chief minister, who was wary of their ambitions.

The party cannot afford to have them back without proper screening,” said a leader.

Former agriculture minister Damodar Rout, the most vocal among the senior leaders of the party, said: “Care must be taken in all such matters to ensure that the authority of the chief minister, who is also the BJD president, remains unchallenged. The interests of the leaders, who were admitted to the party following the departure of some members of the Biju Parivar, must also be taken into account while making these decisions.”

Rout, who feels that loyalty to Naveen should be the most decisive factor in these matters, was obviously hinting at some past feuds in the party, which led to the exit of veterans such as Bijoy Mohapatra and former Union minister Dilip Ray, whose relations with the chief minister remain strained till date.

The old war horse, whose public spats with Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra had resulted in his exit from the ministry in May last year, said the call for reunification of the Biju Parivar should not, under any circumstances, become an excuse for revival of factionalism in the ruling party.

“The people airing such views would do better to keep the past history of the party in mind,” he said, adding that all possible precautions must be taken to ensure that incidents like the failed coup against the chief minister were not repeated.

In another development, the chief minister today continued consultations with senior ministers and MLAs on ways to strengthen the party right up to the village level.