With the attempt by party dissidents to topple him still fresh on his mind,Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appears to be on a drive to poach as many MLAs from other parties as possible to strengthen his position in the BJD as well as that of his government.
Unsettled by the coup attempt of his former mentor and BJD MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra,Naveen in the last one week has taken in all four MLAs of the NCP and is now said to be eyeing three of the six BJP MLAs and some Independents as well.
Finance Minister Prafulla Ghadai,Health Minister Prasanna Acharya and senior leader Damodar Rout have been entrusted with the task of getting in more MLAs.
On Thursday,the Chief Minister also said he would examine the matter if leaders who had earlier quit the party wished to return to BJD. Ghadai said,As Pyari Mohan Mohapatra has already been suspended from the party,many leaders now want to return to BJD. Some had quit because of Mohapatra.
Although BJD has a formidable strength in the 147-member House 108 (including NCPs 4) Naveens drive to get in more MLAs is possibly the result of a report of police intelligence suggesting 40-odd BJD MLAs are still with Mohapatra.
The NCP central leadership,meanwhile,targeted Naveen for poaching. Those who left NCP were lured with promise of money and ministerial berths by Naveen. If he resorts to such acts to quell rebellion in his own party,it is a not a healthy sign for democracy, said Tariq Anwar,NCP general secretary.