BJD Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda seems set for a showdown with party president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik after he alleged in a newspaper article that many key positions in the party have been taken by opportunists. Panda’s fulmination came a day after he engaged in a Twitter duel with fellow BJD MP Tathagat Satpathy who alleged that the BJP was trying to break the regional party with the help of a party MP.
Satpathy did not mention any name but Panda reacted sharply, saying the chief whip “speaks with expertise, having once been suspended from BJD and joined another party”. In a long article in Odia daily Samaj on Tuesday, Panda called for “introspection” in the 20-year-old regional party. “If we honestly introspect, we must acknowledge that allegations about the political environment in 1997…are again being alleged about Odisha of the past three years,” he wrote.
The MP, a source of discomfort for Patnaik for his perceived proximity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleged that the founding members of BJD who worked in tandem with the CM no longer enjoys privilege. Many important positions, he wrote, 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 had worked against BJD”.
Panda refused to be interviewed but in a message said he had done an honest Introspection in the right spirit. On Satpathy’s tweets, he said he responded not to the tweet but to a specific question directed at him by a third person referring to it. BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said it was not proper for a senior leader to put party issues out in the open. “If he thought that something was wrong in the party, he could have taken up the issue at a party forum or approached the party president. It is up to the party president now to take necessary action,” Deb said.
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