After suspending Baijayant J Panda from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for “anti-party activities”, the party has now asked the Kendrapada MP to resign from the Lok Sabha on moral and ethical grounds. The party has accused him of lying in his election affidavit and therefore demanded his resignation from the lower house. BJD vice-president and party MLA Bedprakash Agarwal at a press conference in Bhubaneswar on Friday asked, “Panda has concealed that he is working as an employee of IMFA and drawing crores of rupees as salary. What made him conceal this fact?” Agarwal added by saying that Panda has misled the party and the people of his constituency and lost moral authority to continue as Member of Parliament from Kendrapara.
However, denying the allegations, Panda has said that they were all false and baseless and was a mean-minded attempt to malign him. He said that the allegations were meant to distract attention from law and order issues in Odisha. “Absolutely not. It’s absolutely untrue and a mean minded attempt to malign me as well as distract attention from serious law and order issues in Odisha. Anyone who makes such allegations about my election affidavit is welcome to take the issue up with the EC or in court,” the Kendrapara MP said.
On Saturday Panda visited the memorial of Biju Patnaik in Puri, While talking to the media about the matter, he said, “I’m shocked after my suspension my colleagues found all faults with me which they never did in 2 decades. Allegations are utterly false. Only fault I had was speaking truth. Everyone knows who hijacked the party. Had Biju babu been alive he would’ve appreciated it.”
The party has alleged that Panda has drawn annual salaries and allowances amounting to Rs 2 crore, Rs 79 lakh, Rs 1.45 crore, Rs 1.60 crore and Rs 7.66 crore as vice-chairman of IMFA in the last few years. The party has also attached documents and the election affidavit of Panda with the statement. Claiming that voters of his constituency were feeling cheated by this act, the party said, “Shri Panda has lost all his moral authority to continue as Member of Parliament from Kendrapada. Hence we demand that Shri Panda, Vice-Chairman, IMFA, should immediately resign as MP from Kendrapara.” The statement further said, “He has cheated and misled the party, party leadership and above all the people of Kendrapara Parliamentary constituency about his employment with IMFA — a company involved in ferro alloys, mining and power.”
Panda was elected to Lok Sabha in 2009 and 2014 and had been a Rajya Sabha member from 2000 to 2009.