In a surprising turn of events, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday removed Kendrapada MP Baijayant Panda from the post of the party spokesperson. According to Odisha TV, CM Patnaik, who had recently effected a major reshuffle in his cabinet, continued with the process of reorganisation of the party. However, in another change, CM Patnaik appointed Barchana MLA Amar Satpathy as the chief whip of the ruling Biju Janata Dal. Sathpathy was reportedly upset and had voiced his disappointment over no BJD leaders from Jaipur district being in the Patnaik cabinet.
It must be noted a just a couple of months ago, Panda had spoken about the alleged rising crisis within the party in a newspaper column. According to NDTV, his fellow MP, Tathagata Satpathy had accused Panda of working for the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to divide the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Baijayant Panda, however, had completely rubbished the allegations and had said that his criticism had come in accordance with CM Patnaik’s call for the party to examine and improve itself after the BJP had performed exceedingly well in the Panchayat elections.
“Naveen Patnaik, president, Biju Janata Dal has removed Baijayanta Panda, MP from being the spokesperson of BJD’s Parliamentary Party today with immediate effect,” BJD vice-president S N Patra said in a statement.
Earlier, just ahead of Naveen Patnaik’s much talked about cabinet reshuffle, Hindustan Times had reported that as many as 10 of the 20 ministers in the BJD cabinet had resigned. These debates had come just a day after the state had seen the resignation of speaker Niranjan Pujari. Sanjay Dasburma, Arun Kumar Sahoo, Pushpendra Singhdeo, Pranab Prakash Das, Sudam Marndi, Pradeep Panigrahi and Debi Prasad Mishra were the minister who had resigned from their rspective posts.