Brilliant Chanakya failed in his last game
It was May 26, 2012. By then, there were reports that Naveen Patnaik and Pyarimohan Mohapatra had fallen out with each other. I wanted to know if there was any veracity of the rumour. I called up Pyaribabu to meet him.
He asked me to come to his house at 9 pm that day. As usual, he told me that I would be “the day’s last visitor” to him so that there would be enough uninterrupted time to talk. I used to feel flattered that he almost always chose me as the last visitor of a day as he valued my analysis of current affairs in the State. (A small example: I had once told him “Naveen Patnaik not knowing Odia somehow adds to his charisma. Pyaribabu fully agreed, saying that he had also told the same thing to Naveenbabu.)
So, on May 26, 2012, I reached him at the appointed time. He was in a tense mood. I asked him about his speculated distancing from Naveenbabu. Seething with anger, he more than confirmed the speculation. But why was it so? He said it was over Naveenbabu charging him in the BJD circles with bungling in party funds. He said he had met Naveenbabu in Delhi a few days back and confronted him with this question, but the latter said there was nothing like that. But Pyaribabu demanded that Naveenbau cleared the air soon or else he would part company with him.
At the end of our talks, Pyaribabu left for his upstairs room visibly fuming against Naveenbabu.
As it was a personal talk, I refrained from reporting the issue in my newspaper. But a mere two days later, on May 29, report came that Pyaribabu was hatching a coup in his house against Naveenbabu when the latter had gone abroad. The entire media was at his Sahidnagar residence to cover the “big” development. I doubted if Pyaribabu, labelled as the Chanakya of the Odisha politics, would act so senseless, even stupid.
I failed to get him over phone. I then wanted to talk to Atanu Sabyasachi, one of his closest loyalists, but he did not take my calls. Atanu was not among the BJD MLAs who had gathered at Pyaribabu’s house to join the reported move to topple Naveenbabu from power. I thought if shrewd Atanu was not there, it was not attempt of coup or he kept away from joining with his mentor Pyaribabu realising the latter’s ‘folly’ of a Naveen-toppling game.
As any sensible observer would have imagined, it was suicidal for Pyaribabu to indulge in such a foolish un-Chanakya-like game as the BJD was getting votes in Naveen’s name though Pyari was engineering the strategy for the party to ensure bagging of more seats by removing stops here and there. Pyaribabu kept denying that he was executing a plan to get Naveenbabu out of office. He took the plea that he had called the MLAs to discuss party affairs in general.
I was confused till after a few days when I casually talked to a family member of Pyaribabu who said such an attempt should have been made just after the 2009 Assembly elections when the party had a big win even without an alliance with the BJP at Pyari’s instance. I was then hundred per cent sure that Pyaribabu had done the most unwise act in his political career.
And he had to pay heavily for this. His Odisha Jan Morcha later virtually failed to take off. A brilliant brain finally stopped acting. His arrogance took upper hand of his reasoning.
Postscript: Naveenbabu never called Pyaribabu “Uncle”. I had once asked Pyaribabu about this. He said that it was a “funny media creation” and that Naveenbabu called him “Pyaribabu”. Notably, Naveen is only six years younger than Pyari.
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