However, the BJD hasn’t split officially, as the rebels want to continue in the NDA. Besides, they would have to split the party at the state level in order to oust Patnaik from chief ministership. This is important because its ultimate implication lies in delegitimising Naveen Patnaik’s claim to the Biju Patnaik legacy. That, however, is proving to be a tall order.
While Sethi’s non-performance in the lower house is being cited as the main reason for demanding his removal, the move is basically aimed against Patnaik. The mild-mannered, soft-spoken CM’s predilection for ruthlessly crushing dissidence in his party has angered many. He had suspended three of the six rebel MPs last month. Spearheading the dissident campaign is Patnaik’s arch-rival, Rajya Sabha MP Dilip Ray.
A lot, however, depends on the BJD and how much oxygen it gives the rebels. The contentious Nalco issue will also have a direct bearing on Patnaik’s future. If the disinvestment happens, it’ll be a blow to Patnaik, who has been strongly opposing it. And any loss of face for the chief minister will strengthen the hands of the rebels.