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The turn of events leading to Odisha MP Baijayant Panda’s sacking as spokesperson

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 12:

After his newspaper columns and tweets leaving party in sore discomfiture, Odisha’s ruling party chief Naveen Patnaik today removed Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda as spokesperson of Parliamentary party in Lok Sabha.

“Shri Naveen Patnaik, President, Biju Janata Dal, Odisha has removed Shri Baijayanta Panda, MP from being the spokesperson of BJD today with immediate effect,” a release undersigned by party’s vice president Surya Narayan Patro said.

This comes a day after the party supremo announced the name of former Kendrapara MLA and Minister Pratap Keshari Deb as the candidate for the by-poll to the lone vacant Rajya Sabha seat that goes to polls on May 25.

The move by Patnaik was a clear indication to silence Panda who despite chief’s diktat not to put party affairs in public had taken to micro-blogging site Twitter to place his views on suspended party leader Jairam Pangi switching side couple of days ago. Besides, he had fanned the simmering discontentment withing quarters on losing out on the ministry reshuffle recently.

“One gone yesterday, another today. Yet when I cautioned last week, was contradicted. Now large sections unrepresented, resentment everywhr,” he had tweeted.

Earlier in one of his columns, Panda had written about “introspection” in the party preceding a Twitter spat with party colleague Tathagata Satpathy on BJP trying to poach its leaders.

Through the op-ed, Panda had trained guns on the party supremo Naveen Patnaik for not being proactive, prevalence of widespread corruption and harbouring influential persons committing criminal acts, especially in the current regime of the 17-year BJD rule in the state.

“In this period that not just the government but the party too has been run by bureaucrats have been growing louder,” Panda had written.

“If we honestly introspect, we must acknowledge that allegations about the political environment in 1997, including widespread corruption and sheltering of powerful people committing criminal acts, are again being alleged about Odisha of the past three years,” he had expressed.

While the party distanced itself by terming it as Panda’s personal views, the then party spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb had hinted towards possible action against the industrialist-turned-politician.

“I have gone through the article. In my opinion, it was not proper to put party issues out in the open through media. If he realized that something was wrong in the party, he could have taken up the issue at party forum or approached party president or put forth his grievances through written communiqué,” Deb had said.