BJD’s War Within Escalates as Party MP Jay Panda Targets Naveen

The war of words in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) intensified today with the party’s Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Jay Panda attacking Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, alleging in an article in an Odia newspaper, albeit indirectly, that the latter has failed to stem corruption within the BJD.

A day after Panda and another BJD MP, Tathagata Satpathy, engaged in a Twitter spat over the issue of the BJP orchestrating a split within the party and signalling that not all is well in the 20-year-old party, the parliamentarian from Kendrapara wrote in an article in the Samaj newspaper,“If we honestly introspect, we must acknowledge that all the above-listed allegations about the political environment in 1997, including widespread corruption and sheltering of powerful people committing criminal acts, are again being alleged about Odisha of the past three years.”

Reacting to a tweet that he was allegedly ‘creating a political storm’, Baijayant Panda responded that he was just saying ‘what the Party’s founder President had said’.

Hinting at the BJP’s improved performance in Odisha’s recently held panchayat elections, Panda attributed the success to the ‘dynamic leadership of the BJP’ in his article.

Other parties are gaining ground because of their dynamic leadership, and unless the BJD’s founder urgently deals with the issues outlined above, the party will struggle to face these challenges.

BJD Leaders Seek Disciplinary Action

Panda’s article indirectly questioning the leadership of BJD founder and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has not gone down well with the party leaders. Many senior leaders have sharply reacted calling for disciplinary action against him.

Despite repeated attempts, official spokespersons of the BJD did not respond to The Quint’s phone calls.

Senior state minister Damodar Rout said “a senior MP like Panda should not add fuel to the fire,” while responding to the questions fielded by mediapersons.

Jay Panda is a senior MP. If he thinks like this, he should call a meeting of the party. He should not add fuel to the fire. I don’t see 2019 as a challenge. It may be a challenge for others.

BJD Chief Naveen Patnaik paying tributes to his late father Biju Patnaik with other party leaders. (Photo Courtesy: www.bjdodisha.org.in)

According to reports, the BJD’s official spokesperson Pratap Jena has hinted at possible disciplinary action against Panda.

Pratap Jena, BJD SpokespersonBaijayant Panda has been writing many things calling it his personal opinion. He is supporting BJP and writing against the BJD. It amounts to indiscipline. His high ambition is not unknown to anybody. The party will consider taking action.

BJD sources alleged that “an opportunist” Panda “has struck a deal” with the BJP which, after the surprising panchayat poll results, has sensed it could pose a serious electoral challenge to Patnaik when the state goes to the polls in 2019.

The sources said that Patnaik is fully aware of Panda’s moves and his “closeness” with certain senior BJP central leaders.

The sources said that Panda has been “spoiling for a showdown” with Patnaik and a few other leaders who have been steadfast in their support for the four-term chief minister. Panda expressed his grouse in the Samaj article, claiming that “many key positions are no longer held by people who struggled for the party who might have given honest feedback, but rather by opportunists from various fields, including some who worked against the BJD.”

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik with the BJD MPs. (Photo Courtesy: Odisha Mirror/FB)

While Bhratuhari Mahtab, the BJD parliamentary party leader, had maintained a studied silence when The Quint contacted him on 27 March for his reaction to the unfolding drama within the party, sources wondered why Panda chose to respond to Satpathy’s tweet even though the latter took no names.

Also Read: BJD MPs Satpathy & Panda Spar Over BJP ‘Trying to Split the Party’