Politics

Jay Panda: Had Hinted Fighting “New Influential Coterie” “I have been speaking out against a small coterie indulging in corruption and criminality"

@MasalaBai

BAIJAYANT JAY PANDA, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) lawmaker from Kendrapara in Odisha, has resigned from the party.

“It is with deep anguish, hurt and sorrow that I have decided to quit the kind of politics into which our BJD has descended,” Panda, 54, said in his resignation letter to party president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

His resignation came days after he lost his father Bansidhar Panda, a leading industrialist and a close ally of former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik, the father of CM Naveen Patnaik.

In his letter, Panda said: “I was heartbroken when several BJD colleagues conveyed that they had been restrained from coming by to pay their last respects to the departed soul. That the BJD does not want me anymore and in fact wants me out, is now irrefutably clear.”

In January this year, Panda was suspended for alleged “anti-party activities”.

His perceived closeness to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership in Delhi and admiration for Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given wings to rumours about him joining the ruling party, which Panda has vehemently denied.

In a telephonic conversation with OtusLive a few weeks ago, Panda spoke about his suspension, his current position and explained how he was fighting a “new coterie that has become influential in the BJD”.

Panda’s resignation is contrary to his earlier statement to OtusLive in which he had implied that his position in the BJD will be decided by the party and not him.

“It’s the party which has suspended me. I have never not been happy with the party. I have been speaking out against a small coterie indulging in corruption and criminality. I have never spoken against the leader. The ball is not in my court,” Panda had said.

Panda was suspended in January by his party, named after Patnaik’s father and founding member Biju Patnaik, for allegedly “indulging in activities aimed at weakening BJD, whether it is in the Parliament, state, constituency or media space”.

Panda was accused of not campaigning for BJD candidates in elections to state’s Panchayati Raj institutions and “supporting opposition candidates” among other things.

A column he wrote for a newspaper in March asking his party to “introspect” its poor performance in the local body elections had also rubbed his party colleagues the wrong way. Party lawmaker Tathagata Satpathy had accused him of trying to split the party at the behest of the BJP.

Watch Jay Panda speak on the battle for 2019

Another issue, as BJD vice-president and state minister SN Patro indicated in January, was Panda’s ambition. Trouble started when Panda expressed an interest in chairing the Standing Committee on Finance in Lok Sabha and wanted BJD to nominate him.

Incidentally, Panda is the vice-chairman of the Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Limited (IMFA) and stands accused of allegedly using his clout to waive off a Rs 2,300-crore loan to the company by ten banks which included the debt-ridden Punjab National Bank. Panda has previously denied all charges in this matter.

At the time of his suspension, he said he was “shocked” and spoke of a “conspiracy against him led by an IAS officer”. Despite a complaint by the Kendrapara district president Dhruba Sahoo accusing him of anti-party activities, Panda said his popularity hasn’t faltered.

“I have held two large rallies in the six weeks I was suspended and I was touched by the support my constituents have given me. Messages of support poured in from all across the state and the country,” he had said earlier.

Panda said he had friends in every party and is in a phase of transition he’s not quite done with.

“I face a certain challenge because of a new coterie that has become influential in BJD and I’m dealing with that.” Joining the BJP, which is determined to make inroads in a big way in Odisha when the state goes to polls in 2019, is not something he would like to talk about at this time, he had said.

Combined with anti-incumbency, Panda’s resignation could be just the opening BJP, which is eyeing 120 of the 147 Assembly seats, needs to win Odisha in 2019.

-ENDS-

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