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Pyari gets BJD whip ammo to attack CM

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 7: A senior BJD leader has provided Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra the ammunition he was looking for to launch a fresh attack on chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

Mohapatra did not vote on the Opposition-sponsored motion against FDI in multi-brand retail.

Leader of the BJD in the Rajya Sabha, Shashi Bhushan Behera today conceded that Mohapatra, who was expelled from the BJD recently but remains a member of the Upper House, had not been served with the three-line party whip for voting on the Opposition-sponsored motion. “The whip was not communicated to him because he has been expelled from the party,” Behera said.

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

Behera’s statement must be music to the ears for Mohapatra, who, frustrated by his uncertain position in the Rajya Sabha, abstained from voting and launched an attack on the BJD leadership for treating him “shoddily”.

Though BJD chief whip in the state Assembly Pravat Tripathy sought to take the sting out of Mohapatra’s attack today, accusing him of helping the UPA government by keeping away from voting, the party seems to have undermined its case by admitting that neither had the expulsion of the leader 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 government. What we had been suspecting all along has finally been proved correct,” said Tripathy, but he offered no explanation as to why Mohapatra, who technically remains a BJD Rajya Sabha member till his expulsion order reaches the Upper House, was not served with the whip.

Had the BJD been intent on making Mohapatra toe its line on the voting issue, he would have thought twice before avoiding it because of legal implications. According to a Supreme Court judgment in 1996 in the G. Vishwanathan case, once a leader is expelled, he is treated as an “unattached” member in the legislature. However, he continues to be a member of his old political party for the purpose of anti-defection law.

This was, however, challenged when Amar Singh and Jaya Prada, following their expulsion from the Samajwadi Party, moved the Supreme Court as their views on the Women’s Reservation Bill differed substantially from that of the party. While the court gave them protection from action under anti-defection law in the event of their defying the party whip, the larger issue of whether an expelled member could be disqualified under the law for defying whip was referred to the Constitution bench.