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Out of BJD, Pyari keeps off voting

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 7: A senior BJD leader seems to have provided rebel Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, who did not vote today on the Opposition-sponsored motion against retail FDI, fresh ammunition to attack Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Mohapatra, expelled earlier for allegedly plotting against Naveen but still an MP, had not been served the three-line party whip for voting in favour of the motion, Shashi Bhushan Behera, leader of the BJD in the Rajya Sabha, said. “The whip was not communicated to him because he has been expelled from the party,” Behera told The Telegraph.

On why the expulsion order had not been sent to the Rajya Sabha, Behera said it was none of his business. “That is the job of party president (Naveen).”

The statement must be music to the ears of Mohapatra who, frustrated by his uncertain position in the House, abstained from voting and launched a vitriolic attack on the BJD leadership for treating him in a shoddy manner.

BJD chief whip in the Assembly, Pravat Tripathy, sought to take the sting out of Mohapatra’s attack accusing him of helping the UPA by keeping away from voting. But the party seems to have undermined its case by admitting that neither the expulsion had been communicated to the Rajya Sabha nor had he been handed the peremptory party whip to vote in favour of the motion.

“He abstained knowingly and helped the UPA. What we had been suspecting all along has finally been proved correct,” Tripathy said.

According to a 1996 Supreme Court judgment, once a leader is expelled he is treated as an “unattached” lawmaker but continues to be a member of his old political party for the purpose of the anti-defection law.