PARADIP: Former minister Damodar Rout’s expulsion from the BJD has thrown his home-ground Jagatsinghpur into a state of political churn.Local leaders, including the MP and several MLAs who have been considered close to the veteran leader, have maintained silence over Rout’s expulsion even as several others have openly showed solidarity with him.
Sources said the leaders and erstwhile close associates of Rout have their political career at stake and are thus maintaining a distance from him. Jagatsinghpur MP Kulamani Samal, Tirtol MLA Rajashree Mallick, former MLA Umesh Swain, Paradip Municipality chairman Basant Biswal and BJD Paradip Municipality unit president Sumant Biswal are all aspirants for party tickets for the forthcoming General and Assembly elections. They are afraid of action against them if seen with the ousted leader.Some have reportedly been in touch with Rout over phone but have kept away from meeting him as his rivals are keeping a strict vigil on the movement of his supporters, sources added.
On the other hand, hundreds of BJD leaders, including sarpanchs, panchayat samiti members, trade union leaders from Paradip and several leaders of different organisations have met Rout and vowed their support to strengthen his stronghold over Paradip, Balikuda and Erasama Assembly constituencies. Rout has been elected as MLA for seven times, including five times from Erasama and twice from Paradip.
Kujang block BJD president Chitaranjan Mishra said, ‘’Rout had been closely associated with former chief minister Biju Patnaik and toiled for the party in every capacity he has served. He has been instrumental in developing a strong base of BJD not only in coastal Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts, but also across the State”.
“Rout played a key role in foiling the midnight coup attempt by then MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra. Due to his efforts, the party was saved from the split. Now, some vested interests in BJD had taken the lead to expel him from the party. We are shocked by his ouster”, Mishra said.Meanwhile, Rout on Friday met supporters from Kujang and Paradip and sought their cooperation to contest from Paradip Assembly constituency in 2019 General elections.
While interacting with locals, he said, “It was a pre-planned move of the BJD to expel me from the party in order to provide party ticket to Debashish Samantray in the upcoming elections. The decision to expel me was made without proper enquiry.”