‘Odisha BJP not following path shown by PM Modi’: Bhrugu Baxipatra

The BJP workers are demoralised and unhappy after Panigrahy was announced the candidate from the Lok Sabha seat by the party.
Bhrugu Baxipatra
Bhrugu BaxipatraExpress

Bhrugu Baxipatra was nominated by the BJD from Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency hours after he resigned from the BJP. He takes on Pradeep Panigrahy against whom he had launched an agitation in Ganjam district for corruption and other irregularities. Baxipatra speaks to Bijay Chaki on why he chose to join the ruling party

How was your transition from the BJP to the BJD. You were the vice-president of BJP and were announced as BJD candidate for Berhampur Lok Sabha seat hours after you quit and joined the regional party.

My acceptance in BJD was smooth. But the manner in which the BJP treated me was quite painful. After working sincerely for the party for the last 24 years, they (BJP) suddenly brought in Pradeep Panigrahy who was expelled from BJD over corruption and other irregularities and announced him as the party’s candidate.

Was that the reason you left BJP and joined BJD?

How can I accept it? The BJP had asked me to organise an agitation against Panigrahy who was expelled from BJD for corruption and forgery. The BJP was at the forefront of the agitation against him and I was leading it. But you bring him into the party and give him the ticket. Can you imagine the situation?

Whom do you blame for such state of affairs in BJP?

The Odisha unit of BJP does not follow the path shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose image is being discredited because of the manner in which it is functioning. For the last four to five days, hundreds of partymen are protesting at the party headquarters over the choice of candidates. Have you seen such a thing in any other state in the country? The national and state BJP are two different things. They have no common ground.

But Pradeep Panigrahy has emerged as a serious challenge for BJD after he was fielded by BJP from Berhampur. How do you plan to counter him?

I do not think so. There is much hype and no substance in the statements given here by Panigrahy. Besides, I do not think he was a very adorable person. He is in public life for the last 25 years and has cheated people from his district. I do not think people liked him. Ganjam is the home district of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and voters here are solidly behind him. But the Opposition’s strategy is wrong in the district. It has sidelined persons who had organisational skills and worked at the grassroots.

How have BJD workers reacted to your induction and announcement of candidature for the Lok Sabha seat?

The cooperation from the BJD rank and file was unexpected. There was no objection anywhere to my candidature. That is good news for me.

Have the BJP workers followed you to BJD. How have they reacted to the new situation?

The BJP workers are demoralised and unhappy after Panigrahy was announced the candidate from the Lok Sabha seat by the party. They are also unhappy with some Assembly candidates announced by the party. Their heart and soul are with us. The main challenge before me is to translate this goodwill to votes and approach different sections of voters like women, youth, businessmen, professionals and workers under the leadership of the chief minister.

Do you think the BJD’s margin of victory will increase this time?

I got around 3.5 lakh votes as BJP candidate from the seat and was defeated by around 94,000 votes. This time, I am BJD’s candidate and the margin will definitely increase.

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