Five Orissa JD MPs cross over to Biju Janata Dal
After being nearly wiped out in the Lok
Sabha election, the Janata Dal today suffered another major
blow when five of its 11 members in the Rajya Sabha decided to join
the Biju Janata Dal.
The five MPs are Dilip Ray, Rashbihari Barik,
Bhagwan Majhi, Narendra Pradhan and Ila Panda (all from
Announcing the split at a press conference in New Delhi, Dilip Ray
said the five-member group had met Rajya Sabha chairman Krishan Kant
and conveyed its decision in writing.
''The split is legal under the Anti-Defection Act,'' Ray said.
With this split, only two JD members from Orissa are in the Rajya
Sabha: S R Bommai, who is retiring next month, and
Sanatan Bisi. Bommai, who has been renominated, filed his papers
Welcoming the split, BJD president Naveen Patnaik, who is also
leader of the BJD in Parliament, said it was a positive move. ''The
demands and hopes of the people of Orissa are based on stability
at the Centre and development of the state.''
Justifying their decision, Barik said they all started their
political career under the stewardship of Biju Patnaik on an
''anti-Congress plank". Because of the ''misrule'' of the Congress
during the past two to three years, they had been impressing upon
the Janata Dal leadership at the Centre not to toe a pro-Congress
line in Orissa. ''But they did not heed our demand, forcing us to take this extreme step to ensure that the corrupt regime
at Bhubaneswar is ousted soon, and carry on Bijubabu's legacy.''
The BJD's political affairs committee chairman Bijoy Patnaik said his party had placed
appropriate demands before the BJP for the overall development of
Orissa. ''We will do a lot of work to see that the corrupt Congress
government in the state is out,'' he added.
Meanwhile, it is expected that the Janata Dal's split in the Rajya Sabha may trigger a mass desertion in various state units too.
Ray told Rediff On The NeT, "There are 14 MLAs left in the Orissa assembly and we are
sure that they too would come over to the BJD."
With today's split, the JD has been reduced to a single-digit parliamentary party in the Lok
Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
The party's tally in Lok Sabha is just six: Prime Minister I K Gujral, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Information and Broadcasting Minister S Jaipal Reddy and two
others from Karnataka.
If Dilip Ray engineers another split in the Orissa assembly, the JD will be wiped out in the state.
Even now the major Opposition party in Orissa is the BJD.
The next target for the former JD group in the BJP camp, that includes the Lok Shakti leader Ramakrishna Hegde, is
the Karnataka government.
Anticipating such a move, Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel had stated earlier that he would offer issue-based support to a BJP government.
Additional reportage: Rajesh Ramachandran
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