Kendrapada MP Baijayant Panda Suspended From Biju Janata Dal

**Bhubaneswar:** After a string of allegations ranging from anti-party activities to arbitrary utilisation of MPLAD funds surfaced against Lok Sabha Member Baijayant Panda, Odisha Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday suspended him from the primary membership of the party.

The suspension was announced by BJD vice-president and senior Minister Surya Narayan Patro at a press briefing in the State Capital today evening. “He was working against the party. Right after the 2014 general elections, Panda criticised BJD which sent him to the Parliamen on four occasions. And was found praising the opponents (BJP) on many occasions,” said Patro.

“Panda even did not campaign for the BJD candidates during the Panchayat polls in 2017. On the basis of these factors, BJD president Naveen Patnaik took the decision to sack him from the party,” Patra added. The BJD vice-president went on to add that IMFA Group, the Panda family-owned business, is embroiled in a loan-waiver controversy, which was also taken into account by the Chief Minister.

A press release issued by the BJD during the media briefing stated that Panda desired to become the Chariman of Standing Committee on Finance in Lok Sabha and had apprised the party leadership that he could manage a lobby for securing the Chairmanship, despite BJD being the fourth largest party.

“However, since Baijayant Panda is the Vice-Chairman of IMFA and has drawn an annual salary of Rs 1.45 crore in 2014 and there has been a huge loan waiver running into thousands of crore to IMFA (previously ICCL),” the press note added.

Apprehending serious conflict of inerest, which would have compromised the interests of the State and the country, vis-a-vis a corporate, the party leadership refused to nominate Panda for Chairmanship of the Lok Sabha Standing Committee. “After this decision by BJD leadership, Panda was actively and passively indulged in anti-party activities,” Patra said.

While resentment within the Kendrapada unit of the BJD against Panda is not new, Naveen took strong exception of his statements in which he targeted the Chief Minister’s Office. Panda’s differences with party heavyweights in undivided Cuttack, former Health Minister Atanu Sabysachi Nayak and Pratap Jena, who holds the same portfolio now, added fuel to the fire.

Minutes after the suspension was announced Panda reacted on micro blogging site Twitter.
“I’m shocked at this news. Very very sad Naveen Patnaik didn’t see through the conspiracy against me led by an IAS officer now controlling the party. I vehemently deny allegations against me, they are entirely false & baseless. I will pray to Jagannath for guidance before I respond further,” he tweeted.