Lok Sabha MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda, who resigned from the Biju Janata Dal last month, has alleged that a “new coterie” has formed around Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and that they are misusing his powers.
While resigning from the Biju Janata Dal on May 28, Panda had said he was “heartbroken” that no one from the party turned up to pay their last respects to his father, industrialist Bansidhar Panda. Bansidhar Panda died on May 22. This, however, was only the “final straw”, Jay Panda told The Indian Express in an interview published on Monday.
“Following results of the 2017 [local body] polls, I wrote a newspaper column analysing the party’s strengths and weaknesses,” Panda told the daily. “This was only after the party president called for a public introspection...In May , I was physically attacked in Mahanga by BJD supporters...The police stood like a rock as stones and eggs were thrown at me. My shoulder was injured.”
Panda said when his party suspended him in January, the decision was made by “a kangaroo court headed by a tainted member”, and he was not told of the allegations against him.
“Disrespecting my father [after his death], a close colleague of [Naveen Patnaik’s late father] Biju Patnaik, was the final straw,” he said. “It was particularly heinous as many BJD colleagues conveyed to me that they were restrained from attending [the last rites].”
Panda denied the party’s allegations that he wanted to lobby for the position of chairperson of the standing committee for finance, and that he campaigned against the party in the 2017 elections.
He said the party, in power in Odisha since 2000, had stopped acting against bureaucrats and ministers facing corruption charges in the last few years. “The BJD is not taking action against members arrested in chit fund scams,” Panda told The Indian Express. “As per NCRB [National Crime Records Bureau] data, over the last four years, crimes against children in the state have increased by 50%. This is a decline in governance.”
He refused to identify the people who made up the alleged “coterie”. But he called for an investigation by the Election Commission and the Central Vigilance Commission against a particular “non-Odiya officer” whom he accused of “collecting funds for the party and distributing tickets”. “No serving officer should be involved in politics,” he said. “There is clear breach of constitutional provisions.”
Asked whether any party had approached him or if he planned to form one of his own, Panda said he was “consulting people and evaluating the situation”. “I am considering all options,” he added.
Panda has submitted his resignation to the office of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who was abroad when he went to meet her on June 12.
The party had suspended Panda in January and asked him to resign from the Lok Sabha, accusing him of submitting a false affidavit before the Election Commission ahead of the 2014 elections. Panda had denied the allegations and called them “bizarre”.