BJD MP Baijayant Panda was the first one to give a hint about her entry into Odisha politics.
Bhubaneswar: With rumour about Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s deteriorating health, his sister Gita Mehta is likely to take bigger role in the government and party affairs. If sources are to be believed, Mr Patnaik will soon go abroad for a health check-up.
However, the CM has dismissed the rumour as “baseless”, saying “I’m absolutely fine.”
What has added credence to the rumour is sudden pleading by a section of the BJD leaders that Ms Mehta should play active role in the government and party functioning.
Besides, the Delhi-based Mehta’s presence in Bhubaneswar at the Naveen Niwas, the chief minister’s residence, has also added fuel to the rumour.
Discussions are also on in political circles that Mr Patnaik played a key role behind the sudden resignation of BJD Rajya Sabha member Bishnu Das as he wanted to facilitate Ms Mehta’s election to the Upper House.
BJD MP Baijayant Panda was the first one to give a hint about her entry into Odisha politics. In an editorial page article in a leading Odia daily, the MP, without mentioning Gita’s name, prudently stated: “Your (Naveen’s) father always stood against promoting family politics. We hope you (Naveen) would also uphold the same principle.”
The publication of the article came at a time when discussions had just begun that Mr Patnaik would go abroad for treatment, leaving the CM chair to Ms Mehta, who will vacate the position after his return.
Senior BJD leader Damodar Rout said, “We know that Biju Patnaik never encouraged his family members to come into politics. However, it does not mean that his son and daughter would not join politics.”
Two other BJD leaders — spokesperson Pratap Kumar Jena and MLA Debashis Samantaray — were also of the view that Ms Mehta takes a bigger responsibility.
“She is a learned lady and litterateur of an international repute. If she comes to Odisha, it will be a boon for all of us,” they said.
On Friday, Bhubaneswar MP Prasanna Patsani went a step further, describing Ms Mehta “a great lady of wisdom” and contended Odisha would immensely benefit from her knowledge.