After organising two successful rallies in Bhubaneswar and Bhawanipatna within a month, Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM) chairman Pyarimohan Mohapatra on Monday indicated that the Morcha will be converted into a political party if the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders, including Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, do not ‘reform’ themselves.
“With your blessings if the Odisha Jan Morcha (OJM) comes to power, the development of KBK (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) would be our main priority,” Pyari said addressing the Morcha’s “Kranti Samabesh” at Bhawanipatna, around 430 km from here, in Kalahandi district. This was second public meeting of the Morcha, which Pyari floated on September 30; the first convention was held in Bhubaneswar on October 28.
“The next course of action will eventually be floating of the political party if they (BJD leaders) do not reform.” Pyarimohan did not elaborate on how many seats the Morcha will contest in the next elections. “My priority is now to organise the Morcha all over the State,” he said.
Pyari had earlier said the Morcha would work for “reforming BJD and cleansing the party of undemocratic forces”, claiming that he continued to be in the BJD. Though he had challenged Naveen’s position as BJD president and claimed it was functus officio, his decision not to move court against his expulsion had fuelled speculation of the Morcha becoming a political party. On Monday, he gave broad hints of such of a move.
The huge gathering at the rally was not seen for a long time in Bhawanipatna. The gathering at the BJD’s rally held only a few days ago at the same town was not impressive in comparison. Addressing the rally, Pyarimohan said if the Morcha will be forced to go to elections and wins, it will solve the problems of KBK (undivided Kalahandi, Balangir and Koraput districts) region. Stating that the aim of the OJM now is to establish internal democracy in the BJD, the Rajya Sabha member criticised Naveen for non-performance.
Senior BJD leader and health minister Damodar Rout attempted to brush aside the possible electoral threat OJM might pose to BJD, saying: “He has no party, no political experience. He has never contested an election and is in RS because of Naveen. People would not respond to his boastful claims,” Rout retorted.
Pyarimohan said he is the architect of all good works of the BJD like introduction of rice at Rs 2 per kg and Biju KBK yojana. “It was my advice to sever ties with BJP in the 2009 elections as a result of which BJD derived electoral gains.” All pro-people policies of the Government were announced after a lot of prodding. “Instead of being obliged to me, he (Naveen) was envious of my good work and popularity,” he charged.
Pyari, who the Naveen Patnaik-headed BJD executive committee dismissed from the party for anti-party activities on Friday, took potshots at Naveen, accusing him of neither being an ‘Odia’ nor having any knowledge about government programmes and policies. “They (Naveen and his siblings) knew Punjabi, were brought up in Punjabi culture. Therefore, Biju babu did not want his children to come to politics,” the Rajya Sabha member said, attacking Naveen’s lack of adequate knowledge of Odia language. “After Biju babu’s demise, some people invited Naveen babu to come over. We thought being Biju’s representative he would fulfil Biju’s dreams, but that was not to be,” maintained Pyari, who was principal secretary to Biju when the latter was chief minister in the early 1990s.
The Morcha chief said he worked hard and shouldered all responsibility like Nilakantha for the popularity of Naveen. “The Chief Minister was busy showing orchids in his gardens and gossiping,” he said. Pyarimohan was critical that corruption has ‘increased at the grassroots level by 30 per cent and that Naveen was not taking steps to implement the election manifesto. Pyarimohan demanded that the supporting price of paddy be increased by Rs 300 per quintal and Rs 200 given as bonus by the State Government.
Pyari went on dub Naveen as “selfish” and “inhuman”, in an apparent response to the chief minister having termed him ‘beimaan (betrayer)’ in June. “Naveen did not try to improve the condition of the poor people in the state. I had suggested to him the rice scheme as well as the Biju KBK scheme to help poverty-affected districts,” he claimed, alleging, “Instead of working for the people, Naveen used to enjoy his garden and orchids.”