3 Ministers, over 25 MLAs explore option of forming alternative government

The Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha is headed for serious trouble with at least three Ministers and over 25 MLAs of the ruling Biju Janata Dal raising a banner of revolt and exploring the option of forming an alternative government. The dissidents met here on Tuesday evening at a time when the Chief Minister was on a tour to London. The meeting was held at the residence of Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra, who has fallen out with Mr. Patnaik since the February panchayat polls. Mr. Mohapatra was known as Man Friday of Mr. Patnaik, who has been in the office of Chief Minister since March 2000.

Informed sources did not rule out a split in the BJD even as party sources said the Chief Minister was likely to return to Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

The BJD has strength of 103 in the 147-member Assembly. There is speculation on whether the main Opposition Congress would extend outside support to the rebels if they split the party to stake claim to form an alternative government. There is also talk that President's Rule will be promulgated. A Congress leader declined to comment on the developments and said the party would take a decision depending on the situation.