Naveen Patnaik Strikes, Forms Panel to Probe Jay Panda’s Conduct

Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal Chief Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday formed a five-member committee of senior ministers and MPs which will examine party MP Baijayant Jay Panda’s recent tweets, articles and other public comments, deemed to be going against the interest of the party, before any firm action is recommended against him.

Biju Janata Dal sources, familiar with the proceedings of Wednesday’s meeting, disclosed to The Quint that the committee will be led by Parliamentary Party leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, or senior state minister Damodar Rout.

The committee will decide on the course of action to be followed after examining the recent spate of comments made by Panda, MP from Kendrapara, and his Twitter-exchanges with party colleague Tathagata Satpathy, the party’s chief whip in Lok Sabha. The committee is expected to wrap up its preliminary inquiry within a month.

The Quint contacted BJD’s spokesperson Pratap Deb and senior minister Damodar Rout, however, both shied away from commenting on the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting.

The committee may recommend appropriate disciplinary step against Jay Panda after hearing his side. The MP from Kendrapara will be given a fair chance to explain his side before any action is recommended against him, according to a senior BJD leader familiar with the developments.

BJD MP Baijayant Jay Panda addressing a public meeting in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s presence in his constituency. (Twitter/@PandaJay)

At this point in time, Panda’s expulsion is not being considered to be an option as such a step may leave him with ‘a quasi-independent status in Lok Sabha’ and the Speaker could exercise discretionary power to protect his status, according to the sources within the party.

The idea is to deny the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan any opportunity to have a say over Panda’s status at this point in time. Party sources said “Political heavyweights within the BJD do not want to make a Hemant Biswa Sharma out of Jay Panda.”

Odisha Chief Minister and BJD Supremo Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday held a meeting of the party leaders after the developments in last two-days, after a Twitter-spat between senior party MPs Tathagat Satpathy and Jay Panda drew sharp reactions from within the party.

Jay Panda, BJD’s face in the national media, on Tuesday had written an article in a leading Odia newspaper questioning the leadership of BJD President Naveen Patnaik, which drew sharp reaction from a large section of senior party leaders.

Naveen Patnaik’s decision to form a committee to decide on the public utterances of Jay Panda, which appears to have the backing of the BJP top-brass, comes two weeks before the BJP’s 15-16 April national executive in Bhubaneswar.

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