The suspension of the three MPs was meant to pre-empt a possible split in the 10-member BJD contingent in the Lok Sabha. It was rumoured that the dissident MPs would join hands with ousted BJD leader and Rajya Sabha member Dilip Ray, who has emerged as an alternative power-centre in the state.
Many senior leaders—including former finance minister Ramkrushna Patnaik—have, meanwhile, expressed displeasure at berths being given to ‘tainted’ legislators. Though Ramkrushna has not quit the party, he refused to accept the agriculture portfolio entrusted to him. Among the MPs suspended is his wife, Kumudini Patnaik.
When the rebel MPs returned to Bhubaneshwar from their exertions in Delhi, they drew huge crowds. This is what prompted Naveen to appease his detractors. But that hasn’t stopped anti-Naveen forces—including former BJD heavyweights like Dilip Ray, Bijay Mohapatra and Nalini Mohanty—from consolidating their position.