BHUBANESWAR: The entire Biju Janata Dal chose to stay away from paying tributes to pioneering industrialist Bansidhar Panda who passed away here on Tuesday.Strange as it may appear, Panda Sr shared a great rapport with the legendary Biju Patnaik but neither Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik nor anybody from his Cabinet turned up at the residence of the man - considered the first industrialist of the State - after he breathed his last.
Naveen, though, offered his condolences on Panda’s demise and conveyed his deep sympathies for the bereaved family members. Strangely, he stayed away from doing the same on social media where he is extremely active these days. Last year, when Pyari Mohan Mohapatra passed away, Naveen had risen over the past differences and led his party to pay tributes to the bureaucrat-turned-politician who had turned his enemy No 1 after attempting an unsuccessful coup against the BJD supremo in May 2012. The CM had also attended the 11th day rituals of Pyari Babu, once the master strategist of the regional outfit.
While many Congress and BJP leaders visited Panda’s Bhubaneswar residence to pay their last respects to the departed soul, BJD’s action gave rise to strong criticism.
None from the BJD was available to clarify the party leaders’ reluctance but sources in the regional outfit maintained that it may have something to do with the strained relationship between Baijayant Panda, eldest son of Bansidhar Panda and powers-that-be in the BJD. Baijayant, Lok Sabha MP from Kendrapara has been placed under suspension for targeting the functioning of the CM’s secretariat known as Third Floor.
OPCCS president Niranjan Patnaik, senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra and Congress Rajya Sabha member Ranjib Biswal visited Panda’s residence to pay their last respects.Former minister and senior Congress leader Suresh Kumar Routray said BJD should not have stooped so low. BJP’s Pitambar Acharya termed it as utter lack of courtesy.