Reacting to the recent mutiny, Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik today admitted that he was caught off-guard and was not expecting a rebellion of this nature.
“It is rather disgraceful and sad. I am surprised and disappointed,” Patnaik told Times Now in Bhubaneswar.
The BJD chief also questioned the method adopted in an attempt to oust him.
“In a democracy anyone can replace anyone. But why in this surreptitious mannner when the chief minister or the party president is away abroad?” he said.
“I double-checked and triple-checked before I took a decision. When you are the president of a political aprty it is necessary to take these steps,” Patnaik said.
As a fallout to the rebellion, Patnaik after marathon consultations on Friday, suspended mutineer-in-chief and Rajya Sabha MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra from the party.
The chief minister also recommended to Governor MC Bhandare that state Commerce and Transport Minister Sanjeev Sahoo and Women and Child Development Minister Anjali Behera be removed from the cabinet.
Two MLAs Prabath Biswal and Bibuti Balwant Rai were also ousted.
Last Tuesday, sparking speculation of cracks within the ruling BJD, two groups held separate meetings at the houses of party MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra and Naveen Patnaik, who is on an official visit to London.
At least 21 BJD legislators, including three ministers met at the house of Mohapatra with some leaders terming the exercise as a “pressure tactics” by one group close to the Rajya Sabha member at a time when Patnaik was away.
“I understand that in my absence an MP of my party is stirring trouble against my state government. And also trying to divide the Biju Janata Dal. This is deplorable,” Patnaik then said in London.
Mohapatra, who has been advisor to the chief minister for more than a decade, denied the allegations and said the legislators met him because they were unhappy with the present state of affairs in the party and the government.
Patnaik had said he would take the “right decision” after holding discussions with senior party leaders on the developments that had taken place during his absence.
Mohapatra was the state chief secretary during Naveen’s father Biju Patnaik’s last tenure as chief minister.
“Mohapatra was secretary to my father. When BJD came into being in 1997, I used to consult him widely. He joined the party much later after I became the chief minister,” Patnaik said.