**Bhubaneswar: ** Going by the astounding U-turn by JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar by reuniting with his erstwhile political bête noire BJP and forming government and is also high praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the million dollar question now lurks: Will BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik be the next Nitish Kumar?
This curious question on behalf of the general public was put by eminent TV journalist Barkha Dutt to senior BJD MP Pinaki Misra at the valedictory session of the Tata Steel Bhubaneswar Literary Meet here in Odisha’s capital city on Saturday.
It is because, despite having vehemently opposed to Narendra Modi and had severed ties with BJP during his earlier stint in Bihar, JD(U) leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar surprised all this time when he pulled out of the grand alliance with Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Congress etc and reunited with BJP once again.
Pat came the reply of Pinaki Misra on the vital question, “There is no question that Naveen Patnaik can ever be a Nitish Kumar. It’s inconceivable. Because there is a completely different personae something which is not going to be in any case possible.”
The BJD MP argued, “He (Naveen Patnaik) has repeatedly and very unequivocally always said that BJD maintains a equidistance between the Congress and the BJP. There is no question of siding with one or with the other. The reason this question keeps coming up because we (BJD) were in partnership wth the BJP for nine years from 2000-2009. But it saw a very decisive spilt once the Kandhamal riots happened. It left Naveen Babu very deeply scared.”
“The Kandhamal riot was a very shameful chapter of Odisha’s history. Naveen Babu has never forgotten or forgiven what happened in Kandhamal. He took a suicidal decision as when there will be a triangular fight, the Congress has to win in Odisha.
However, he took that gamble and did not care about the political consequences,” stated Misra.
The session also deliberated on the raging Supreme Court issue since Friday.
When Barkha Dutt asked senior Congress leader-cum-senior Supreme Court lawyer Manish Tewari: “Why Congress got into something that should have been left to the judiciary because this will buttress the argument from the BJP that the Congress is seeking to politicize a matter that in fact the politicians should stay clear off as there is no scope for the executive or the legislature to interfere in the judiciary?
Congress leader Manish Tewari replied, “It’s not about the Congress or BJP. It’s about institution. As the Congress has been at the helm of governance for possibly the longest time, past 70 years, concerns about institutions is obviously paramount on the minds of everybody. It is a matter of national concern.”
Barkha Dutt: Is it a matter of national concern or political concern?
Manish Tewari: It’s unfortunate. It’s unprecedented. It isn’t something which has ever happened in the past. It’s in the interest of the institution the matter be resolved. Except for the Government which is very conveniently ducking and running for cover helter and skelter, every other political party in this country has more or less articulated the same position.
Barkha Dutt: What are now looking for the court and the Chief Justice of India to do in the next 48 hours?
Manish Tewari: The whole country is looking something to happen. Whatever are the issues among the judges or in the Supreme Court, needed to be resolved, need to be sorted out. Because, eventually, the integrity of the highest judiciary and the face of people in the judiciary is something at stake. Nobody is looking to score any political browny points out here.