The political infighting in Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has now hit a new low. BJD MP Baijayant Panda has sparked off yet another row in the Naveen Patnaik government by alleging that a senior state government officer is interfering in the party affairs. Panda made the statement while attending a public function in Cuttack district.
Panda’s statement evoked strong reaction from his own party that accused him of speaking in the language of the BJP. But, the media savvy leader said that he isn’t stepping away from the party’s ideology. “(It is) Sad that some people are trying to portray as if I’m straying from party discipline. Was it I who disturbed law & order in Mahanga?! Was I not just doing my job?? Is what I said not the truth, which every child knows? Let us not fool ourselves. Yeh public hai, yeh sab jaanta hai (This is the public, it knows everything),” said Baijayant Panda.
Though Panda did not name any officer, he apparently referred to an officer considered close to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. He had earlier said that when an officer forgets service rules and indulges in politics by crossing the ‘Laxman Rekha’, he should not be given respect. “If an officer interferes in the party affairs and shelters persons involved in anti-people activities, there is no need to pay respect to him,” Panda said after inaugurating a drinking water project in his constituency.
Reacting to it, BJD spokesman and Rajya Sabha member P K Deb said the MP is speaking the language of senior BJP leader and Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan apparently keeping in mind the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. “That officers doing politics or indulging in politics is the statement of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Today, our Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda gave similar remark. Why such similarities? “As the general election will be held in 2019, many leaders will change party. Some may join the BJD and some may quit BJD. Similar changes may also take place in BJP,” the BJD spokesman was quoted as saying by PTI.
In May last year. Chief Minister and party president Naveen Patnaik had removed the Lok Sabha MP from Kendrapara from the post of spokesperson of BJD Parliamentary Party. This after Panda called out for introspection in Biju Janata Dal in the aftermath of party’s under performance in 2017 panchayat polls and how the party was taken over by opportunists.