A day after triggering speculation of cracks in the ruling Biju Janata Dal in Odisha, party member of Parliament Pyari Mohan Mohapatra on Tuesday ruled out any plans to topple Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik but admitted to differences with him as he felt the state government was gradually "losing control" due to "arrogance" of bureaucrats.
"I had drawn the attention of the chief minister to this trend but little action has been taken. As a result arrogance of bureaucrats is increasing day by day," Mohapatra, who is regarded as the chief adviser and strategist of the ruling BJD, told reporters in Bhubaneswar.
Claiming that he had no aspiration to become chief minister, Mohapatra said there was no move at all to topple the government headed by Patnaik. "There is absolutely no threat to Naveen Patnaik from me. He is completely safe as chief minister as he is the leader of the BJD," he said.
"Had I wanted to become the chief minister I could have tried long ago instead of waiting for so many years ... I could have tried in 2009 also," the former bureaucrat-turned-Rajya Sabha MP said.
He said the chief minister had called him on Tuesday night from London and enquired about several legislators gathering at his house and he explained to Patnaik that there was no formal meeting and that some MLAs had visited his house only to discuss their grievances and party matters.
Referring to the chief minister's reported remark deploring Tuesday night's developments, he said Patnaik's comment was a result of "misleading" information given to him by some party leaders, who also held a meeting at Naveen Niwas as a "panic reaction" late Tuesday night.
Patnaik had on Tuesday night deplored the attempts to divide the party. "I understand that in my absence an MP of my party is stirring trouble against my state government. And also trying to divide the Biju Janata Dal. This is deplorable," Patnaik had told PTI in London.
Alleging that Patnaik was encircled by a group of conspirators, Mohapatra said that "the group members have been trying to eliminate me in order to target the chief minister in the next phase."
The sudden meeting of some 33 BJD MLAs including three ministers at Mohapatra's house last night which took place in the absence of the chief minister, who is on a visit abroad, had sparked speculation about fissure in the BJD.
Claiming that the group of conspirators comprised four persons including minister, MPs and MLAs, Mohapatra said he had informed Naveen about it in 2010 and now "I am praying."
Asked whether he considered former minister Damodar Rout a conspirator, he said "Rout doesn't know anything. He is simply a self-styled spokesman of the conspirators without knowing their evil design."
Maintaining that the MLAs discussed organisational matters at his house last night, the Rajya Sabha member said, "I don't believe there is dissidence in the party though there are grievances among MLAs and Ministers who are not being looked after by the leadership."
Mohapatra asserted that the BJD was not heading for a split but said some complacency has creeped in and the organisation was not being looked after as it should be and we have to work hard.
Lamenting alleged disturbance in political governance, Mohapatra, who had served as principal secretary to Naveen Patnaik's father Biju Patnaik when he was the CM of Odisha, said bureaucracy is gaining "supremacy" and secretaries are "not obeying and consulting the ministers".
Maintaining that he had never betrayed Patnaik, the senior leader said he is only a worker and his dedicated work for last 12 years for the party seemed to have gone waste as people are trying to give different colour to his role.
Noting that Patnaik was earlier consulting him on various issues including government, Mohapatra said since 2008 he had been working only for strengthening the organisation.
On Patnaik's clean image, he said image matters only five to ten per cent as votes come due to organisational strength of the party.
To a query, the MP said neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party can take advantage of developments in BJD.
On whether Patnaik was of late leaning towards the BJP, he said the BJD is a regional party and there is no question of forging alliance with the BJP or the Congress. However, in the national scenario the question of support to the National Democratic Alliance is a different matter, he said.
Meanwhile, in a bid to demonstrate their strength and repose confidence on the chief minister, a large number of BJD legislators including several ministers held a meeting at Patnaik's residence, Naveen Niwas.