Fissures seem to have surfaced in the ruling Biju Janata Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party in Orissa after Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati's killing and violence in its aftermath with several angry BJP legislators on Wednesday advocating withdrawal of their party from the coalition government.
While Brundaban Majhi, BJP MLA from Laikera in Jharsuguda district, claimed to have submitted his letter of withdrawal of support to the assembly speaker, at least seven other members including three ministers were waiting for the Central leadership's permission.
"I have handed over a letter withdrawing my support to the government to the Speaker Kishore Mohanty," Majhi said.
"We have sought the Central leadership's permission to withdraw support. The government has admitted its failure to provide security to the VHP leader Saraswati," said senior party MLA Mahesh Sahu.
Other members including ministers, sources said, who also were in favour of withdrawing support included Samir Dey, Surama Padhi, Golak Naik (all ministers), Karendra Majhi, Mahesh Sahu, Gourahari Naik and Droupadi Murmu.
Party sources said the three ministers and four MLAs met the leader of the BJP legislature party and Industries Minister Biswabhushan Harichandan on Tuesday night and expressed their views on the withdrawal of support.
"Yes, the BJP MLAs met me on Tuesday evening. The party is aware of the sentiments of the members after the gruesome killing of Saraswati," Harichandan told PTI.
Not making her views clear on withdrawal of support from the Naveen Patnaik government, Cooperation Minister Surama Padhi said, "Wait till evening, things will get cleared by then."
Besides holding the police responsible for the gunning down of Saraswati, the saffron legislators said the government had admitted to have failed to provide security to protect life of the VHP leader who was facing a threat on his life.
Adequate security should have been provided to the Swamiji, particularly when the chief minister himself was holding the home portfolio, they pointed out.
"Putting three police officers including Kandhamal SP N Kanodia under suspension proves that there were lapses in Saraswati's security," Sahu said adding the party MLAs feel that this government could not provide security to the people at large.
The BJP MLAs also demanded withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Kandhamal district. "We feel the CRPF and Rapid Action Force jawans are deployed to attack Hindus who are in minority in Kandhmal," Sahu alleged.