Orissa's ruling Biju Janata Dal is heading for a split with rebel members of Parliament and members of the Legislative Assembly refusing to compromise with party president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
On Saturday, Patnaik had expelled three of the party's ten MPs -- Jagannath Mallik, Prabhat Samant Ray and Kumudini Patnaik -- for indulging in anti-BJD activities.
The chief minister expected that three other MPs, Prasanna Acharya, Bhartwahari Mahatab and Prasanna Patsani, who had joined the rebels, would return to the party fold, but that did not happen.
The rebels removed Patnaik's protégé Arjun Charan Sethi from the post of parliamentary party leader and announced that Acharya will take his place.
However, the chief minister refused to accept Acharya, who has the support of six party MPs, and re-announced the name of Sethi as parliamentary party chief.
The rebels openly challenged Patnaik's leadership. "The BJD constitution says that before the expulsion Patnaik was required to get approval of the party's political affairs committee, which he has not taken," Acharya told rediff.com from New Delhi.
Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi on Monday asked both the groups to accept Acharya as parliamentary party leader until he decided on the mater.
While the rebels consider it a minor victory, supporters of Patnaik claim that this is not going to help them much.
The rebels feel they have inherited the legacy of Biju Patnaik, founder of the party.
"Naveen is the son of late Biju Patnaik. He has the blessing of his mother, brother and sisters," a loyalist of the BJD chief told rediff.com.
"Acharya heads the real parliamentary party and will continue to do so," expelled MP Mallik said, adding, "we are with him; we all are united."
Patnaik is forcing a split by taking such autocratic steps, he said.
The rebel group with six MPs in its fold seems to have the advantage. Patnaik has only four on his side.
Although Patnaik's supporters in Bhubaneswar say they are trying to win over Acharya and the other two, the possibility seems to be remote.
"Naveen Patnaik does not have the support of even the other four MPs... They will switch over to us very soon," a rebel told rediff.com on condition of anonymity.
"We taught him a lesson by ousting his protégé from the BJD Parliamentary party. Now we are going to oust him from the BJD legislative party and from the post of chief minister by electing a new leader," he said.
"We have the support of more then half of the BJD MLAs," he said, adding, "Patnaik's days are numbered."
Three suspended BJD legislators expelled
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