Odisha News Insight

Intolerance @ Odisha ploy to block Bijoy Mohapatra’s Elevation?

Bijoy-MohapatraOdisha, which has been by and large peaceful and keeps itself away from the Hindu-Muslim divide, has witnessed hectic activities on the “intolerance debate”. It started with CM Naveen Patnaik’s statement on 21 November, when he said BJD is against intolerance.

Just a day after, renowned Poet Jayant Mohapatra (88) decided to return his Padma Shri (received in 2009), while retaining the Sahitya Akademi Award (received in 1981). Mr. Mahapatra, talked about religious intolerance in the country and accused the government of not doing enough to restore peace in the country.

Ironically, Mr. Mahapatra gave a different opinion to leading national daily, The Hindu and played the ‘minority card’. Hardly anyone knew in Odisha that Jayant Mahapatra had converted into Christianity long ago. He went to the extent of saying that he lived in apprehension, as he was surrounded by the majority in his locality. Many eminent personalities were shocked by this reckless utterance.

Jayant Mahapatra forgot that he lives in Cuttack, which is famous for religious tolerance and Hindu-Muslim unity during festivals. While Cuttack MP and senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahatab called the ‘award wapsi’ by Jayant Mahapatra as ‘unfortunate’, the BJD took a different stand the next day. Odisha Minister Sanjay Dasburma lent the party’s support to Jayant Mahapatra from an official party forum.

And, the Odisha Minority Forum headed by BJD leader Dr. Sasmit Patra did not lag behind. They express solidarity with Jayant Mahapatra the next day and published press statements in his support.

Why do we witness such hectic activities in Odisha all of a sudden on this topic? Is Naveen worried about the possibility of Bijoy Mohapatra’s appointment as the BJP’s Odisha Unit President? The intolerance debate could be a ploy to put the central BJP leaders on back foot and force them to listen to the BJD supremo.

The intelligence report might have given sleepless nights to Naveen, if that was in favour of his bete noire Bijoy Mohapatra, who has emerged stronger in the race to become BJP President in Odisha. It would be interesting to see whether Naveen can force the BJP leadership at the centre to make a retreat and choose another leader to replace KV Singhdeo? Only time will tell.

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