Dissident BJD leader’s forum a parallel platform?

October 12th, 2011 - 3:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 12 (IANS) There is discomfort in Orissa’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) over the launch of a forum by a prominent party leader, with some saying it is nothing but a front for dissidents.

Former minister Damodar Rout Tuesday launched the Biju Bichar Manch (BBM) - named after former chief minister and legendary leader Biju Patnaik - at a public meeting here despite opposition from a section of BJD members.

Although no powerful BJD leader was seen at the function, political analysts say it has the blessings of some party dissidents who do not wish to make their identity public at the moment.

Rout says the new platform will remain apolitical.

“The ideology of the late Biju Patnaik is being ignored in the party and government. The forum will work to remind the party and the government about Biju babu’s dream for the state,” Rout said.

The BJD is led by Biju Patnaik’s son Naveen Patnaik who was not well versed in Oriya language when he became chief minister but has successfully steered the party to three assembly election victories.

The party has distanced itself from the forum. “BJD has no links with it,” party leader Pyari Mohan Mahapatra told reporters.

Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy accused Rout of nursing political dreams under the cover of a new platform. Party leader and Lok Sabha member Bhartruhari Mahtab also said Rout should have devoted more time to the BJD instead of launching a forum.

Many say BBM has more to do with politics than anything else.

Some even see the forum as a parallel platform for dissident leaders. In case the BJD suspends Rout, accusing him of anti-party activities, he may convert it into a political party, they say.

“Rout is a sitting legislator. He is also one of the vice presidents of the BJD. Why did he need to launch such a forum when he is already in the party?” the editor of a language newspaper told IANS.

Rout, 69, a six-time legislator from the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur, has worked as a minister in the state for over 12 years since 1979. He was close to Biju Patnaik.

However, he was cornered earlier this year after he objected to ‘a second power centre’ allegedly run by Pyari Mohan Mahapatra, a Rajya Sabha member who is considered the chief advisor of Naveen Patnaik.

Rout’s biggest setback came when Naveen Patnaik told him to resign as minister in May. Rout was holding charge of the department of agriculture, cooperation, fisheries and animal resources development.

He was also in the eye of a storm for his reported remarks against some public representatives and officials at a public meeting in his home district last year.

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