Bijayant Panda, the suave BJD MP from Kendrapara and a known critic of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, was on Wednesday suspended from the party for “weakening” it. The announcement about the suspension of Panda, who was said to be veering towards the BJP, was made by BJD vice-president and state minister S N Patro at a press conference in Bhubaneswar.
“Party president Naveen Patnaik has suspended Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda from the primary membership of the BJD,” Patro told reporters. Panda said he was “shocked” at the news. “I am shocked at this news. Very very sad @Naveen_Odisha did not see thru the conspiracy against me led by an IAS offcr now controlling the party. I vehemently deny the allegations against me, they are entirely false and baseless. I will pray to Jagannath for guidance b4i respond further,” Panda tweeted soon after the announcement was made.
Patro, while making the announcement, said, “Sri Panda has been directly and indirectly indulging in activities aimed at weakening BJD, whether it is the Parliament, state, constituency or media space — no opportunity was misssed by Panda to criticise BJD and eulogise the opposition. His claims of being a founder member of BJD are totally false.” He said Panda did not campaign for BJD candidates in elections to panchayati raj institutions even in his own constituency, and indulged in “anti-party activities”, supporting opposition candidates.
“That was totally against the interest of the party and its functionaries who have been responsible for sending him to Parliament four times,” Patro said. He added that Panda, who was elected to the two houses of Parliament twice each on BJD ticket, had changed after being elected to Lok Sabha in 2014.
“After 2014 elections, Panda was desirous of becoming the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance in Lok Sabha and expressed the same to the party leadership. “He also said that BJD being the fourth largest party in the Parliamnet, may not be favoured with the chairmanship of the standing committee on finance. However, if he is nominated, he stated, he would be able to lobby and get it,” Patro claimed. He said the party leadership did not favour him.
Patro said, Panda, as the vice-chairman of IMFA drew annual salary and allowances of Rs 1,45,27,747 in 2014. He claimed there was a huge loan waiver running into thousands of crore of rupees to IMFA (previously ICCL) which was still a “matter of debate.”
“IMFA is a company which is into mining, ferro-alloys and power in Odisha. Apprehending serious conflict of interest which would have compromised the interest of the state and the country vis-a-vis a corporate, the party leadership refused to nominate Panda for chairmanship of the Lok Sabha standing committee,” Patro said. Patro said Panda was suspended by Patnaik who took into account all these issues.