Odisha Jana Morcha (OJM), a forum of disgruntled workers of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), targets to enroll 25 lakh BJD workers into its fold in next five months.
“Our aim is to bring 25 lakh BJD workers under our fold in next four or five months. We will have at least 500 workers in every panchayat of the state,” OJM chairman Pyari Mohan Mohapatra told the maiden rally of the forum here on Sunday.
Mohapatra said, OJM will hold four such gathering at different places across the state by December this year.
Rajya Sabha MP Mohapatra, the erstwhile BJD strategist and close confidante of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, had fallen out with Patnaik after his attempt to topple the government in May this year. He, along with some of his associates, had been suspended from the party since.
However, no other party MLA, who were either stripped off ministry or suspended, was present in the OJM rally following instruction from top BJD leadership.
While OJM claimed members from across the state joined the meeting, it also alleged that many workers were detained by BJD leaders and government officials on their way to Bhubaneswar.
“Many of our workers were beaten at Pipili constituency. At Athagarh, their vehicle was bombed. Hundreds of our workers are detained at several places by government officials in the name of vehicle checking and by BJD goons,” said Mohapatra, justifying lower turn out of people at the rally.
Rough estimates said around 10,000 people joined the rally. Earlier, the forum had expected that 70,000 people would participate in the meeting.
“Considering the hype created over the rally and tall claims of Mohapatra, the rally was a damp squib”, said Kalpataru Das, minister for rural development, reflecting the mood in BJD.
The forum meeting primarily focused on Patnaik’s inability to raise the voice of the state at the Centre and his lack of interest to rule the state.
“A person who could not learn Odia in 12 years, a person who just signs on the files and leaves the government to be run by Chief Secretary and other officials, does not have the right to rule Odisha,” he said. During the meeting, the forum members kept repeating that OJM is a part of BJD and rejected the allegation of BJD ministers that it is a B Team of Opposition Congress party.
“We are not B team of any party. Rather BJD made a deal with Congress in the coal block allotment and it is clear now who is team B of Congress“, Mohapatra said, pointing fingers at Patnaik’s recommendation to Centre to reserve a coal block for a company run by Naveen Jindal , a Congress MP.
The BJD said, it is not perturbed by the “poor” show of strength by the rebel leader and pointed out that more than 90 per cent of the people present in the rally belonged to opposition Congress party.