Former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Baijayant Panda on Thursday called on expelled party leader Damodar Rout in Bhubaneswar, prompting talks about the formation of a new political party in Odisha just ahead of the Assembly polls.
Former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Baijayant Panda on Thursday called on expelled party leader Damodar Rout in Bhubaneswar, prompting talks about the formation of a new political party in Odisha just ahead of the Assembly polls. According to a report in The Indian Express, Panda who was suspended from BJD primary membership in January and quit the party in May, however, said that he met Rout just to offer ‘moral support’ who was expelled from the party on Wednesday for alleged anti-party activities.
When Panda was asked about speculation that he along with Rout may float a new party, he said, “We will sit and talk again in the future.”
Rout was expelled from the party a day after he alleged that the BJD was being run by one bureaucrat and three MLAs. He had even targeted the government over financial irregularities in some state government departments. He had claimed that the BJD government oversaw a scam of Rs 800 crore in farm loans disbursed by the cooperation department.
When Panda was asked about Rout’s expulsion, he said, “It is a sad thing that Biju Babu’s staunchest supporters, who have worked with him, are being removed from the party. The BJD, which we were proud of, used to take action against allegations of corruption. These days action is being taken against those who flag corruption. BJD was formed against violence, corruption and for women’s safety. All of it is reversed.”
However, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has called Rout’s allegations ‘ridiculous’. On Thursday, when the CM was asked about the reports that Panda and Rout were planning to float a new party, he replied: “Dama Babu has always been making irresponsible statements. If they wish to form a party, that is their business.”
Rout is an MLA from Paradeep constituency in Jagatsinghpur district.
The IE report quoted a BJD MP as saying that the duo may form a new party soon. The MP told the daily on terms of anonymity that Panda and Rout may try to project their outfit as a true legacy of Biju Patnaik, father of current Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
“It is likely that both may form a new political party that will stake claim to the ‘true’ legacy of Biju Patnaik and portray the BJD as a corrupt and unprincipled organisation,” the MP said. “This will be done to cut BJD votes in coastal Odisha and benefit the BJP.” The MP added that “no one in the BJD was worried about the prospect”.
Another party MP said that Panda and Rout will “soon realise that only Biju’s son can be his legatee and that without a strong organisation their party will have no chance” in Odisha.