The BJD’s chief whip in Lok Sabha, Tathagata Satpathy, tweeted Monday that the BJP was trying to split his party with the help of another MP. Though Satpathy did not name the other MP, Baijayant “Jay” Panda responded on Twitter with an attack on Satpathy. “BJP hard at work to divide @bjd_odisha in Parliament, maybe even in assembly. They want AIADMK type split… They want to take away @bjd_odisha’s party name & symbol. Rumors afloat that only one MP will swing this deal for them. Ha!” Satpathy said in a series of tweets.
Sources said there is disquiet in the BJD over the recent BJP’s recent surge in the UP assembly and Odisha local body elections. The BJP won over 300 of 851 panchayat seats in Odisha to finish second behind the BJD. The showdown comes ahead of the BJP’s national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar next month.
Satpathy alleged that if the BJD does split, the BJP would push for early elections. Odisha’s assembly election is scheduled in 2019, coinciding with the Lok Sabha polls.
“If split happens, no matter how small, BJP will try for early elections in Orissa with Raj, Guj, MP. Will EC play along?…” Satpathy tweeted. “BJP National Convention scheduled on 15-16 April in Orissa. PM to attend. Intention to put pressure to make state govt defunct.”
When a Twitter user asked him to respond, Panda posted: “He speaks w/ expertise, having once been suspended from BJD & joined another party. I don’t have such experience, so will defer to his…” Satpathy had been suspended in 2000; he rejoined the party in 2004.
When The Indian Express asked him about his tweets and the MP he was referring to, Satpathy said he would not comment any further. Asked about Panda’s tweets, he said, “Ask him why he is responding when I have not taken anyone’s name.”
Panda was not available for comment; a close aide said the MP had already tweeted whatever he had to say.
In Bhubaneswar, BJD leader Damodar Rout said the party has several “Vibhishans” who are adept at causing harm from inside.
From the BJP, Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that if anyone is rattled by the party’s success, he is not worried. “The BJP will obviously try to strengthen its base and build up on its recent success in panchayat polls,” he said.