The controversy between Baijayant Panda and BJD party leadership is not showing any sign of retreat. Earlier, in 2017, we had told you how the party reacted in strong terms to Panda’s editorial in an Odia daily asking the party and party leadership to do self introspection. His routine criticism of party on Social media as well as MSM has earned him ire from senior party members. He was even termed as Bibhisan after party’s poor show and BJP’s surge in Panchayat polls concluded last year. For his repeated rumblings despite stern warnings, he was eventually suspended as BJD spokesperson.
This time, the verbal duel assumed new proportions when the usually calm Chief Minister has rebuked Panda and hinted at disciplinary action.
Panda was to inaugurate an overhead water tank in Buhalo Gram panchayat under Nischintakoili block on 11th Jan, 2018. The MLA of the constituency, health minister of Odisha Shri. Pratap Jena, had issued a veiled threat to Panda accusing him of not fulfilling his duty towards his constituents and that people may react to this. Jena is not new to this controversy. Last year, Jena accused Panda of playing politics when he alleged that the inauguration plaque of one of the overhead tank in Mahanga block doesn’t have the name of the MLA. Panda had refuted this charge but Jena was relentless and even threatened Panda to attend the inaugural ceremony. Panda had hit back saying, even bullets can’t cow him down. Eventually, supporters of Jena vandalised the plaque and had hurled eggs at Panda in that ceremony.
It will be worthwhile to add here that, in a written reply to Rourkela MLA Shri Dilip Ray, state home minister and CM, Naveen Patnaik had submitted on 12th September 2017, that 89 persons have been arrested in 15 egg throwing incidents. No arrest has been made only in one incident so far when eggs were thrown at BJD MP Baijayant Panda.
These overhead water tanks are being constructed from Panda’s MPLAD fund. He has chosen a target of constructing 57 such tanks of 1 lakh litre capacity each, totalling to 57 lakh litres. This was the 12th such project. This time as well, Panda went ahead despite Jena’s veiled threat and inaugurated the project. Replying to the media query, Panda took potshots at some party leaders who are anti people and IAS officers serving to such party leaders.
#WATCH: BJD’s Kendrapara MP Jay Panda slams government officer for interfering in party affairs after inaugurating overhead tank project at Buhalo in Nischintakoili block of #Cuttack#Odishapic.twitter.com/n62a4w7pDG
— OTV (@otvnews) January 11, 2018
For our non Odia readers, Panda is seen here saying that, “Those officers who forget service rules and cross ‘Laxman Rekha’ to interfere in party affairs and politics to help anti people party leaders, there is no need to respect such officers. I want to recall what Biju babu told the people on how to treat these officers.”
He was referring to a very strong statement from former CM Biju Patnaik back in 1993, when he had asked people to “beat up corrupt officials” but “send me a telegram before you beat them up”. Panda is apparently hinting at an IAS officer in CMO Mr. Pandian, who is private secretary to CM Naveen Patnaik. It is widely believed that, Pandian virtually runs the show in CMO and has significant say over government and party matters. Former BJD MLA Ramaranjan Baliarsingh, who quit the party on Thursday, termed Naveen Patnaik as a puppet in the hand of a Tamil IAS officer.
This has evoked some strong sentiments within party circle. BJD spokesperson and RS member Pratap Keshari Deb has said that Panda is speaking the language of Dharmendra Pradhan keeping 2019 elections in mind. As election nears, some will leave BJD to join BJP and also the other way around, he quipped. However, what comes as a surprise this time is, the usual calm party president and CM Shri Naveen Patnaik has reacted strongly to this.
What seems to be raising eyebrows, is when he said, “whatever appropriate will be done”. Can he be hinting at disciplinary action? Panda’s duel with BJD is not new but this is the first time the CM has reacted strongly.
Panda has also expressed his disheartenment and asserted that he is committed to development of his constituency and it was vested interests who are creating disturbances. He has request party management to examine.
I’m v.disheartened. Did Biju Babu also have”no other issues” when he demanded action agnst corrupt babus? If no issue, why 5 police platoons in Mahanga? Was it I who created disturbance in Mahanga? Was i not just doing my job peacefully? I still plead for my leader to examine?? https://t.co/GkJuZ3DKuV
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) January 12, 2018
The fact that after 70 years of independence, villages barely 100 KMs from state capital still do not have drinking water supply speaks volumes about the commitment of our political leaders. After 70 years, if someone is working towards making potable water available at doorsteps in these villages, we only hope that there won’t be politics over drinking water.