Debi Prasad Mishra
Bhubaneswar, June 18: BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik is making efforts to get his warring leaders bury the hatchet, so that the party projects a united image ahead of 2019 elections.
In an exercise to iron out differences among the bickering leaders, Naveen today called Dhenkanal MP Tathagata Satpathy and party vice-president Debi Prasad Mishra to Naveen Nivas to bring a truce between the duo.
Mishra complained to Naveen against Satpathy after the Dhenkanal MP had called him a "thief" at a public meeting and said Naveen had rightly dropped him from the ministry. However, Naveen had immediately clarified that he had relieved some ministers of their charge to entrust them with party work and sought explanation of such a remark from Satpathy.
Though Satpathy had later regretted his comments about Mishra on the Twitter, it neither satisfied Naveen nor Mishra. "The message was conveyed to Satpathy. His statement has not only hurt the sentiments of many leaders, but also sent a wrong message to the rank and file. This is a step towards infusing discipline in the party," said a senior BJD leader.
Today, both Satpathy and Mishra came in the same vehicle and met Naveen. Emerging from the meeting, they posed smiling to show their camaraderie before the photographers waiting outside. Satpathy, known for making off-the-cuff remarks, said: "It was a slip of tongue. We are friends, and we don't have bitter feelings. I have already expressed my regrets."
Former minister Pranab Prakash Das (Bobby) and spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb were also present on the occasion.
Satpathy also tweeted about it. "After meeting Hon'ble CM today with Debi babu, Bobby babu and Pratap babu resolved to strengthen BJD against fascist forces." In the social media, he also posted a photo with these leaders.
Earlier, he had posted a tweet saying: "Regret shooting my mouth & hurting sentiments. Will try to improve my characteristic flaw."
Mishra today also sought to project that he was no more feeling hurt and would let bygones be bygones.
"Tathagata babu is one of my close and dear friends. He has already expressed his regret in the social media. We both shared our thoughts before the chief minister," he said.
Similarly, an attempt has also been made to patch up between the BJD's two warring strongmen from Jagatsinghpur district - minister Damodar Rout and deputy chairman of the state planning board Bishnu Das. Both of them are known for making critical remarks against each other.
Last week, Das had called on Rout at the latter's residence and had been closeted with him for nearly half an hour. They used to share a bitter relationship in the past with Das filing a case against Rout after the minister had made some derogatory remarks against him in an interview to The Telegraph.
Das told The Telegraph: "I think, for the greater interest of the party and over-all development of the district, the ice had to be broken. I had gone to his house and shared a cup of tea with him."
Rout also confirmed the meeting saying, "What's wrong in it? He had come and we discussed various issues." Both the leaders would attend a meeting of the district planning board to be held either on June 21 or 23.
Party leaders said Naveen was quite disturbed after receiving intelligence inputs that the infighting in the party was likely to cost it dearly.