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Mahtab questions BJD’s choice of prez candidate

 Even as Biju Janata Dal’s Parliamentary Party leader in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab, who has been leading the rebels from the front, today once again criticized his own party, this time over support to Bharatiya Janata Party’s presidential candidate Ramnath Kovind, his party has distance itself from his views.

Mahtab, in an editorial in his own newspaper Prajatantra, questioned BJD’s stance of maintaining equal distance from both Congress and BJP. He said the party’s support for Kovind is questionable as it violates the basic tenet of maintaining equal distance from BJP.  The MP further questioned BJD’s support for Kovind by Chief Minister and party supremo Naveen Patnaik after getting a call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We could have waited till Congress had fielded its candidate and taken a decision accordingly. Why the haste?” he said.

Mahtab, earlier in an editorial had stated that BJD has not done poorly in panchayat polls as being propagated by the BJP. “The BJP gained in the recent rural poll due to loss of Congress votes. But it has to be admitted that the ruling party has lost 3 per cent vote in the recent poll as compared to the 2014 general elections", he had written. The Cuttack MP also opined that the BJD spokespersons should not expose party's weaknesses by responding to even local BJP leaders.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Jayadev Jena said Mahtab’s latest rant against his own party and supremo reflects the growing infighting in BJD. He said there is a possibility of BJD MLAs and MPs casting their vote in favor of Congress’ presidential candidate Meira Kumar resorting to cross voting. “Since there is no party whip in the election for President, there is every likelihood of massive cross voting from BJD in favour of Congress’ candidate as the party is plagued with severe infighting”, said Jena.

A political commentator has said that Naveen wasted no time to announce support for BJP candidate Kobind as he knew that there would be cross voting by his MPs as his party’s Parliamentary party stands divided now. Had he taken any different decision many of his MPs would have gone for BJP candidate taking the help of absence of whip in this election.  

The Cuttack MP’s editorial comes days after his Dhenkanal counterpart Tathagata Satapathy questioned BJD’s support for Kovind. Tathagata had taken to Twitter to vent his ire against the party’s decision.

However, party’s senior leader and a minister in Naveen’s cabinet Surya Patro expressed surprise over Mahtab’s posturing. “When the party supremo has already taken a decision and BJD has become a proposer for Kobind’s candidature for President election, no one from the party should make public utterances without consulting the party chief”, Patro said. Another party MP Nagendra Pradhan has also criticized Mahtab for expressing such views even after party has taken a stand.


Précis 2017
From asking his party men to ‘live a simple life and serve the people’ to taunting the BJP for its ‘crocodile tears’, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has not only become politically invincible, he seems to be so in the coming years too.


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