'Naveen has no moral guts, authority'

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By SUBHASHISH MOHANTY Hot seat - Bijoy Mohapatra, senior BJP leader
  • Published 3.05.14
Naveen was not in politics in 1995. He did not know even the A B C of Odisha politics and much about the state. It is foolish on his part to comment on what had led to the defeat of the Janata Dal in 1995. I am not a betrayer. Rather he has mastered the art of betrayal. His acts of betrayal are many. I am one of the victims of his treachery and back stabbing

There was a view that the Marshaghai block development officer (BDO) of your Mahakalpada Assembly constituency had done nothing wrong but your party workers manhandled him. He had no intention to tamper with the EVMs (electronic voting machine), which were in a vehicle and was found to be parked outside his residence. It became a major issue and the district administration had to impose prohibitory orders in Kendrapara district for a couple of days. The BDO seemed to have become a victim of politics.

There is a well-demarcated law prescribed by the Election Commission on how to handle the EVMs .... whether used or unused. No government official can take the EVMS to his residence. My question is why the EVMs were taken to his residence. Who had taken the decision and who had brought the vehicle there? There are doubts and suspicions. People are watchful about this sensitive issue. As they noticed the EVM-loaded vehicle being parked outside the BDO’s residence, people gathered at the place and there was a law and order problem. But remember, it was the police who had seized the EVMs, not our workers. Had the BDO been not on the wrong side, the police would not have seized the machines. The Kendrapara collector, who is also the returning officer, had also said the BDO’s act was highly irregular and illegal.

The Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) has backed the BDO and condemned the act. They had even gone on a pen down stir to express their solidarity with the officer. How do you see that?

The association should not protect the wrongdoer. It should have condemned the BDO’s act and expelled him from the association, instead of trying to shield him for his illegal action. I did not expect from the association to support him so openly. The association, by identifying itself with some higher-ups, had organised movements, which backfired. Was the association formed to protect the corrupt and wrongdoers?

Chief electoral officer (CEO) Mona Sharma claimed the election had passed peacefully in Odisha. But why are you upset with her?

I have said before... the CEO’s office was taken over by the third floor (of the secretariat that houses the office of the chief minister), which consists of a highly dubious character, junior IAS officer V.K. Pandian (private secretary to the chief minister). The district collector-cum-returning officer of Kendrapara had recommended action against the BDO. But the CEO, instead of acting tough against him, has only transferred him. She should have acted according to the returning officer recommendation. We need an answer.

It is an open secret that officials attached to chief ministers help their bosses. Pandian was doing his job. Why blame him?

A state is run by the political will. Bureaucratic will should not take precedence over the political will. He is now dictating terms to the chief minister, senior bureaucrats, industrial houses and also the BJD leaders. During my long career, I have seen several chief ministers and their offices. But such things had never happened. People are determined to end this ... no private secretary will be allowed to behave like this.

It is almost a decade you were thrown out of the BJD. Why is Naveen Patnaik so opposed to you? He had even campaigned against you and made indirect personal attack. What are the reasons?

I know that Naveen is extremely coward. He has no moral guts and does not have the moral authority. He is a spoon-fed baby. He does not posses the required intelligence either to run the administration or face his opponents. As he is scared of facing me, he has adopted all sorts of malpractice in my Assembly constituency. He had personally campaigned against me. He put all the money and used the government machinery to defeat me. But people’s anger is against Naveen Patnaik. Once the results are declared on May 16, he will come back to sense.

But the BJD is hopeful to form the government for the fourth time in a row.

The BJD’s position is very weak now. There is a huge difference between Naveen of 2009 and Naveen of 2014. Anti-incumbency factor is working against BJD candidates. Lots of issues are haunting the government. Corruption and non-governance are two core issues, which Naveen is unable to answer. The scenario is not bright for him.

What would you say about Naveen’s allegation that Biju babu could not become the chief minister for the second term in 1995 because of the act of betrayal and back stabbing by some party colleagues? His statement was obviously aimed at you.

Naveen was not in politics in 1995. He did not know even the A B C of Odisha politics and much about the state. It is foolish on his part to comment on what had led to the defeat of the Janata Dal in 1995. I am not a betrayer. Rather, he has mastered the art of betrayal. His acts of betrayal are many. I am one of the victims of his treachery and back stabbing.

This time, it became evident that the tussle for power was essentially between former Biju loyalists and Biju’s son Naveen. (Srikant Jena, a former Biju loyalist, was leading the Congress campaign, and Mohapatra, another staunch loyalist of the late leader, was in the forefront of the BJP). What do you say?

Before his death, Biju babu had said one thing, which I still remember. That was on March 29, 1997. During a one-hour talk — he told me that the greatest tragedy of his life was his family. People perhaps have forgot that Biju babu did not spend at least the last 30 years of his last with his family members. Can he (Naveen) remember on which date and in which year he had met Biju babu last? I had put this question to him, but he never replied. Naveen is a person, who doesn’t reply in public meetings, he reads out prepared scripts... that is the misfortune of Odisha.

But Naveen proved Biju babu wrong and he has been able to run the state for the past 14 years. You must give credit to him. Won’t you?

People don’t want to vote for the Congress. There was no strong Opposition. The votes were for Biju babu and not for Naveen.

Bureaucrat-turned-politician Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, who had played a key role in your ouster from the BJD, is no more a force. He, too, has been thrown out of the party. What do you have to say?

I don’t want to comment on Pyari babu. He is no more at the helm of affairs. I have no personal vendetta against him. But, I can say that the BJD is going to face a very rough weather this time. It cannot calculate the loss that it is going to incur this time. The BJD is in the hands of a handful of bureaucrats. It is no more a political party and run by political people. Have you heard of any election committee meeting being held to finalise the party’s list of candidates? It was a few officers, who decided it and Naveen approved it. A party of this character cannot survive. I have information that many leaders are going to revolt against the leadership in the coming days.

lThe BJP is a party backed by the RSS leaders. Even BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is backed by the RSS. How do you see your future in the party since you do not have an RSS background?

There are many people in the BJP, who do not have the RSS background. I have not come across any problem till now.

Your state party president K.V. Singh Deo has asserted that the BJP has done exceedingly well in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Do you subscribe to that view?

The BJP was earlier in a bad shape in the state. It has now emerged as a strong and major Opposition party. There are two factors that helped the party — the Modi factor and an anti-Naveen factor. This time, the BJP will certainly do well. Wait and you will see an unexpected result.

Aren’t you nervous at this moment?

No. I am hopeful this time. The people are also very hopeful about my prospects. They prayed for my success. Even after 14 years, people love me. That is the greatest pleasure in my life.

You wear the tag of a party-hopper. Does it not affect your career?

So far my career has not been affected. Politics is an experiment. You have to experience many things. Had it been for personal gains, my image would have been tarnished by now.