On last Monday, former lawmakers- Baishnab Parida and Nabin Nanda meeting the chief minister and their party chieftain Naveen Patnaik has spawned much speculation. Were the two leaders specially summoned by Patnaik? Did the chief minister give them a piece of his disturbed mind? Both Parida, a one-time Rajya Sabha MP and Nanda, a former MLA joined issue with the protesting Kendrapara MP Jay Panda over a non-Odia officer’s unhindered meddling in the party affairs and the supremo playing to his tune.
The tacit reference to VK Pandian- the chief minister’s private secretary and his most trusted officer, might have aggrieved him. While in the public view, Patnaik shrugged off the issue, saying he was dedicated to serving the people of Odisha, observers feel the chief minister is not the one to swallow it with ease. What would be the chief minister’s recipe to curb voices of dissent? The answer remains the subject of political gossip. Patnaik has already taken to Track-II manoeuvring to sidetrack vocal MPs like Jay Panda. Exposing Panda’s lack of connect with his electorate through a grievance petition from Nischintakoili sarpanch alleging neglect by the sitting MP may just be the beginning of a calibrated strategy. It was the same area which Panda visited last week and inaugurated an overhead water tank project. By highlighting waning people’s support for a sitting MP, the party president can shake his base.
A slew of other changes seem to be in the waiting for the BJD. Organisational rejig could be one. The overhaul could be with intent to stamp his authority by Patnaik. The BJD boss calls the shots and he would just wait for the opportunity to declare that the buck stops at him. But will he bite the bullet? Will the BJD president purge the party of some non-conformist leaders? Difficult to hazard guesses since Patnaik is known to play all his cards close to his chest.