Ex-Odisha MP Jayaram Pangi says he will quit BJP, focus on UT demand for Koraput
BHUBANESWAR: Former Koraput lawmaker Jayaram Pangi on Tuesday announced his decision to quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and start a campaign to seek Union Territory status for undivided Koraput district and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Pangi, once considered a tribal heavyweight who defeated Congress veteran and nine-time MP Giridhar Gamang in the 2009 Lok Sabha election on a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ticket, hopped across to the BJP in May 2017. He contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from tribal-dominated Koraput seat on a BJP ticket, lost to Congress’ Saptagiri Ulaka and subsequently found himself sidelined by the party.
The four-time Pottangi legislator said he was quitting the BJP because he wants to do something for his native place and the people of the undivided Koraput district.
“I have been doing party politics for the last 44 years but in the dusk of life, I want to dedicate my time towards the greater development of undivided Koraput which I have been unable to do so far,” the 66-year-old politician said.
“The only way to resolve the issues is to accord Union Territory status to these areas for which I have formed the Dandakaranya Parbatmala Vikash Parishad. As it is very difficult for a person to shoulder two major responsibilities at a time, I have decided to quit the BJP,” Pangi said.
Koraput district was part of the Dandakaranya settlement project that began in September 1958 to rehabilitate East Bengali migrants who could not be accommodated in West Bengal. Spread over an area of 80,000 square miles, the aim of project was not just to rehabilitate the migrants but also develop infrastructure for the resident tribals through construction of all-weather roads and railways, irrigation, agriculture and establishment of industries based on mineral and forest resources of the area.
The first phase of the project was confined to the districts of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, undivided Koraput and Kalahandi districts of Odisha.
“Tribals of the undivided Koraput district living near the border areas of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are yet to see any development. Among other issues, these villages do not have road linkages. Though I have raised their problems with the state government several times, I am told that I am doing it since I am a member of an opposition party. If this is the case, why should I remain in politics?” Pangi said.
He, however, said he will seek the support of all parties to raise the demand for UT status to the Dandakaranya Parbatmala.