BHUBANESWAR: Four months after he was suspended from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for alleged anti-party activities, Kendrapara MP Baijayant Jay Panda quit the regional outfit on Monday. A heart-broken Panda submitted his resignation in a three-page letter to BJD suprmo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and expressed his anguish at the treatment meted out to him.Panda, among the early members who helped found BJD in 1997, said he was hoping that Naveen would pay heed to his calls for reforms in the regional outfit which had deviated from the ideals of Biju Patnaik but it was not to be.
Apparently the decision of Naveen as well as the entire BJD not to turn up to pay their last respects to Panda’s father and eminent industrialist Bansidhar Panda proved the last straw for the MP whose relationship with the party was strained since last year.“Now on the seventh day of my bereavement, before I embark on the prescribed religious rituals, I realise that I have been bereaved in more ways than one. My faith that I was assisting you (Naveen) in a party that was decent and committed to certain principle has also died,” his letter said. The industrialist-turned politician will resign from the Lok Sabha after performing the last rites of his father.
Feeling “unwanted,” Panda said he was quitting BJD with deep anguish, hurt and sorrow because of the politics into which the party has descended. “I have stoically borne my self respect to continue to be associated with the party in an atmosphere as mean minded as this,” he said.The four-time Parliamentarian’s decision to dissociate himself from BJD comes on expected lines although the timing he chose - less than a week after his father passed away - remained questionable.
The BJD which had received flak for not showing basic courtesy during Bansidhar Panda’s death also used the opportunity and said it was not willing to comment on the matter at this juncture. “Since the MP is bereaved, BJD would not get into political matters till the 11th day rituals are complete. The party will make its stand clear at the appropriate time,” senior leader Debi Prasad Mishra said.
Panda was suspended from the primary membership of BJD on January 24 for anti-party activities. He had drawn the ire of the BJD boss after criticising the internal functioning of the regional party last year.
He blamed the Chief Minister’s Office for BJD straying from the ideals of Biju Babu but it was a veiled attack against Naveen’s private secretary and IAS officer VK Pandian. The relationship between Panda and BJD continued to be strained as the party accused him of filing false affidavits and even asked him to resign.
With Baijayant Jay Panda’s decision to resign from Lok Sabha, his future course of action has assumed significance
Political circle is abuzz if a by-poll would be necessitated after his resignation but it could depend on a number of technical factors. A final call can only be taken by the Election Commission looking at the time left for the General Election
After his relationship with Naveen went south, there have been talks about him joining the BJP but it could prove a double-edged sword for the four-time MP. How welcome will he be in the schemes of the BJP’s state unit if he switches to the saffron outfit?
Even in the event of a by-poll, would Panda choose to contest from Kendrapara remains a big question. Insiders say he may not even want to contest the 2019 polls
At present, Panda’s decision appears somewhat hasty but sources say the 54-year-old politician has other plans up his sleeve and his strong Delhi connections may have something to do with it