In fresh fissures in Orissa's ruling Biju Janata Dal, the party suffered a split in Lok Sabha on Wednesday with four rebel members opposed to party president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking separate seating arrangements in the House.
The four rebels -- Prasanna Patsani, Prabhat Samantray, Kumudini Patnaik, wife of former state finance minister Ramakrushna Patnaik, and Jagannath Mallick -- handed over a letter to Speaker Murli Manohar Joshi in the morning requesting him to allocate separate seats them.
Of the four rebel MPs in the ten-member BJD Lok Sabha team, Samantray, Patnaik and Mallick have already been expelled for anti-party activities following a revolt on September 17, 2002, against Parliamentary party leader and Union Minister Arjun Charan Sethi, a Naveen loyalist.
Ramakrushna Patnaik was sacked from the ministry following his differences with chief minister Patnaik.
Interestingly, Prasanna Acharya and Bhartruhari Mahatab, who had spearheaded the revolt against Sethi, were not signatories to the letter seeking separate seats in Lok Sabha.
"Myself and Mahatab have not signed the letter submitted by the four rebels to the Speaker. We are carefully watching the developments", Acharya said.
Meanwhile, in Bhubaneswar the ruling Biju Janata Dal said it had nothing to do with the decision of the four MPs as three of them had already been expelled from the regional outfit months ago.
When asked about reports of Patsani having joined the expelled MPs, party secretary general Damodar Rout said, "We are asking the leader of the parliamentary party, Arjun Charan Sethi, to provide details about the conduct of Patsani."
Patsani said, "We never wanted to quit the party, we wanted the chief minister to change his style of functioning. But he refused to do so even after eight months of our waiting."
Hours later, the members announced their decision to join the Orissa Jana Shakti floated by Patnaik's arch-rivals -- Bijoy Mohapatra, Dilip Ray, Nalinikant Mohanty and Ramakrushna Patnaik.
Vowing to oust Patnaik soon, rebel MP Prasanna Patsani said a vigorous statewide campaign would be launched against the 'dictatorial' approach of the BJD President and to save the people from the 'misrule' under the BJD-BJP coalition. "Very soon we will float our own political party," Patsani said.
"Our decision to snap ties with BJD is bound to rock Orissa assembly. State Legislature Party will also split as we have garnered considerable support in there," he said.
He said Prasanna Acharya and Bhartruhari Mahatab, who had been chosen as BJD leader and chief whip in the Lok Sabha last year, would also join them shortly.