THE MEDIA considers him the tallest politician in present-day politics in Orissa. However, despite his high-political net worth, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Bijoy Mohapatra has not received the respect he deserves.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal, which Mr Mohapatra had founded, expelled him in 2004. The Nationalist Congress Party, which he brought to Orissa in 2004, “betrayed” him in 2009 when Orissa chief minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik cultivated good relations with Sharad Pawar.
Mr Mohapatra joined the BJP with the hope that the saffron party would give him due recognition. He assiduously strengthened the party through persistent political activities. His followers expected the party would reward him with the state chief post.
However, the BJP chose to nominate Basanta Panda, said to be a “confidant” of Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan, as the new party president. A couple of days after his coronation, Mr Panda held his first press conference and announced a poster campaign on ration card irregularities in Orissa. The issue did not find much favour with the media and hence got less than the expected publicity. A day after Mr Panda’s press meet, Mr Mohapatra called the press people and raised the issue of how the Naveen Patnaik government had violated all rules and laws to allot the land to International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Puri and how the latter was building a temple over it although it was given the land for other purposes. Immediately, the issue was lapped up by the media. All newspapers flashed the news on the front page and TV channels ran daily follow-up stories on the expose. Hopefully, now, the BJP high command will take note of Mr Mohapatra’s potential.