By D N Singh
For any scribe to get a close encounter with a big leader always comes in handy for a good lead to his story, if not anything else. That way it was a rare occasion for me in the earlier days of the political innings of Naveen Patnaik.
Once the sound bytes taken and cameras closed the shutters the chief minister Naveen Patnaik told me and another friend from my rival channel for a brief chat. To which we readily agreed.
It was just after days when the BJD chief had dropped a few senior leaders from the party on disciplinary grounds.
What you people think of the actions against the leaders, was the essence of the question the chief minister wanted us to answer. I took hardly any time to say that ,’ sir when you hit someone, you hit below the belt’ , an answer from me to a man of high civility like Naveen Patnaik, in fact, did not go well. I surely acted bit over smart on that occasion.
‘ Why are you being so uncharitable ‘ the BJD chief fired back at me. I simply apologized to ward off any further diabolic from the tall man . He perhaps forgave me what I made out from his smiling side glance from the shoulder.
Then I, to myself, recounted the names of the leaders in the BJD who had been pushed to the sidelines and never came back !
The name of Bijay Mohapatra, who suffered the most unexpected rejection by the BJD, came to my mind first. Today I think that I was not wrong, but I surely lacked the civility while facing one of the most soft spoken and polished politicians in India.
Bijay Mohapatra had since then been playing political footsie at different times but with little or no success. Even his own launched Odisha Gana Parishad (OGP) failed to earn him any political legitimacy. Somewhat similar were the cases of few other leaders dispatched through the BJD exit gate and never again re-grew politically.
Either it was Nalini Kant Mohanty, who is no more, Ramksrushna Patnaik or even Dilip Ray to name the prominent few. It may be an interesting coincidence that both Bijay Mohapatra and Dilip Ray are now in the BJP but they are like the fishes out of the water, simply weathering the disparaging neglect from the party they are in. Both are seemingly torn between the choices of despair and relevance.
While Mohapatra has been demonstrating his disillusionment with the saffron unit here time and again but he has never been viewed as a substantial rival within or a dissident by the BJP national leadership and what can be described, perhaps, as a willing suspension of disbelief .
And such cold silence from a party to all that unsparing diabolic from Mohapatra is viewed as catalysts to create the defeatist impulses he still tolerates that must puzzle any political analyst.
The most recent to have been shown the exit route was Baijayant Panda, former BJD member of Parliament from Kendrapada .
But Panda supposedly the only one who so far has shown the doggedness and gumption to face the headwind from the Naveen loyalists . But he, as expected , not been able, till date , to prepare the road map ahead while the run up time to 2019 is likely to be over soon.
It’s a different matter to be very straight in one’s criticism portraying the demi-Gods in the BJD for their overdrive to dwarf the rest can only matter if one rises above the sobing epidemics and regain the relevance to scare the enemy. Be it either Mohapatra or Jay Panda.