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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapara, Nov 8:

Biju Janata Dal supporters belonging to factions led by former Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak and Kendrapara MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda today clashed with each other during Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s tour of Mahakalpara.

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Nayak’s supporters started sloganeering against Panda while he was on his way to the venue and in the meeting venue in front of Chief Minister Patnaik – where both Panda and Nayak were also seated.

Local police, however, ensured that the situation doesn’t spiral out of control.

Even though there were reports of Panda being manhandled by Nayak’s supporters, the former denied these reports.

“Attended Mahakalpada public event with CM. As expected, a handful of planted ppl raised slogans against me vs. thousands in favour of me,” tweeted Panda after the incident.

“Dozen ppl can’t manhandle whn 25k cheering support & 100’s volunteers surrounding. It was just crowded conditions,” (SIC) he added.

According to reports, irked over the incessant coverage of SUM hospital tragedy and Atanu’s alleged link with that hospital trustee by a television channel linked to Panda’s family, Atanu’s supporters had announced that they would deny Panda entry in Mahakalpara.

Panda, himself, took to twitter and alleged so.

Questioned about the incident, Atanu feigned ignorance on any opposition to Panda.

“Party workers were here to cheer for the Chief Minister. I am not sure of what happened to who. Besides, it is unfair to point fingers at supporters. Naveen Patnaik is our only leader and we are all party workers. Some constituents could have said something, but is not appropriate to involve Biju Janata Dal in this. No one opposes anyone in this party,” said the former Health Minister in his defence.

BJD Vice President and Excise Minister Damodar Rout chipped in and offered his support for Panda.

“My personal opinion is: this is utterly disgraceful. It should not be done to anybody either from the ruling party or opposition. The police shouldn’t play into the hands of few and advise others against visiting a place,” said Rout.

Meanwhile, dozens of supporters of Panda took to the streets in Bhubaneswar and demonstrated against Nayak in front Raj Bhavan. They blackened posters with photographs of the latter, burnt his effigy and demanded disciplinary action against him all the while sloganeering in favour of Panda.