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Jay Panda quits BJD signalling towards tougher times ahead for Naveen Patnaik
Finally Baijayant Jay Panda has quit the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Panda, a Member of Parliament from Kendrapara had allegedly been suspended on January 24 for carrying out anti-party activities by the BJD President Naveen Patnaik.

A BJD member has also filed a case against him alleging that he had submitted a false affidavit to the Election Commissioner. Panda is one of the founding members of the BJD.

Regarding Panda, despite being an industrialist, he considers politics as a form of social service. He is very popular not only in his constituency Kendrapara but also throughout Odisha. He frequently visits his constituency, even travellingto its remotest parts either on foot or via bicycle. To know more regarding him, refer to my earlier article.

To understand what went wrong between Panda and the BJD supremo, let me first explain how Naveen Patnaik governs Odisha. The government of Odisha means Naveen Patnaik and his IAS officers. Other ministers don't have any say or power. The next line of leadership within the Odisha government is VK Pandian, private secretary to Naveen Patnaik. Pandian works as second in command in the BJD. Thus, all MLAs, MPs and other leaders have to show loyalty towards Pandian or else they would be in for trouble. Although Naveen Patnaik is the party president but it is Pandian who runs the entire show, hence, Naveen Patnaik follows Pandian's advice. Pandian rose to prominence after former IAS officer and BJD founder Pyarimohan Mohapatra was expelled from the party.

Problems started when most MPs refused to succumb under pressure from Pandian. As a retaliative measure Pandian used local MLAs to raise complaints against party's MPs namely Baijayant Panda, Tathagata Satapathi and Bhartruhari Mahtab who were dissatisfied with Pandian's increasing stature and clout within the party.

Baijayant Panda became vocal and wanted to make Naveen Patnaik aware of these developments. But since Naveen Patnaik only listens to Pandian his words fell on Naveen Patnaik's deaf ears and subsequently Panda was suspended from the party.

Only time will tell how Panda's exit from the party will affect BJD's prospects in the coming days.

The point to be noted here is that although Naveen Patnaik still commands popularity within the state, it's said that anti-incumbency is not always against the leader. So, Navin Patnaik might not be facing anti-incumbency but many of his MLAs are seriously facing lack of popularity. In such a situation if a popular leader like Baijayant Panda quits the party, then testing times sure lie ahead for the BJD especially when the BJP is emerging as a strong player in Odisha post the Panchayat elections.

The second blunder which Naveen Patnaik made was of not attending the last rites of Bansidhar Panda. Baijayanata Panda is the eldest son of late Bansidhar Panda, who was the founder of Indian Metal and Ferro Alloys (IMFA) and known as the architect of industrialization in Odisha. Bansidhar Panda was very close to Biju Patnaik.

Bansidhar Panda passed away on May 22 but none of the ruling BJD members attended his last rites. Many intellectuals and common people denounced this act of Naveen Patnaik as Bansidhar Panda deserved to be respected by rising above petty politics. This might have been done at Pandian's advice.

It's always said that one mistake leads to another mistake. It appears that the BJD is in deep trouble as many other MPs are mulling to quit the party, some due to differences with Pandian while others over doubt that they will get tickets. It's difficult to speculate anything as of now but surely retaining power in 2019 would be no cakewalk for Naveen Patnaik.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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