Following Naveen Patnaik’s much-hyped Cabinet reshuffle, a crisis of sorts is brewing in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Recently, Patnaik has effected a massive reshuffle in his Cabinet and the party to counter the BJP’s surge. But the move seems to be counterproductive as the reshuffle rears serious resentment in the rank and file of the BJD over non-representation of several districts in the ministry.
Even as the Odisha Chief Minister was away in Delhi for an official tour, two BJD leaders have quit the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Veteran BJD leader Jayaram Pangi, who was suspended from the party last month, joined the BJP along with hundreds of supporters today in the presence of Union Minister and BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan.
“I was a disciplined member of the BJD. The party did not take 40 seconds to spoil my efforts of 40 years,” Pangi said at the BJP state headquarters in Bhubaneswar while accepting the BJP membership.
“Respecting the party and its leaders, I have joined BJP,” the tribal strongman said. “The BJD is doing exactly the opposite of what Biju Babu dreamt about Odisha,” the former Koraput MP said.
Yesterday, Amar Nayak, another BJD leader ahd joined the BJP in the presence of Pradhan. Nayak, a strong grassroot leader, belongs to Barchanana Assembly constituency of the politically hot Jajpur, the costal district which didn’t get any representation in Patnaik’s recent Cabinet reshuffle.
Meanwhile, senior BJD leader and Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda tweeted:
One gone yesterday, another today. Yet when i cautioned last week, was contradicted. Now large sections unrepresented, resentment everywhr ?
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) May 9, 2017
Panda is known for his plain speak. Earlier in March, the articulate Lok Sabha MP, while writing an Op-Ed in the leading daily ‘Samaj’, had asked his party to “introspect before it was too late”.
“Key positions in the party are no longer held by those who struggle for the party and may have given honest feedback, but rather opportunist from various fields, including those who had worked against the BJD,” Panda had written.
Post-Panchayat elections, there has been a huge outflow of workers and leaders from the BJD to the BJP. Reports suggest that a number of senior leaders of BJD are waiting to join the BJP in the run up to the 2019 elections.
In the last Pachayat elections, the BJP succeeded in making a giant stride in Odisha politics, leaving Naveen Patnaik’s BJD in a tailspin. Patnaik is staring at a strong anti-incumbency now.