Was targeted and humiliated in the BJD: Baijayant Panda
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Was targeted and humiliated in the BJD: Baijayant Panda

Baijayant Panda resigned from the BJD last month. In January this year, the party suspended Panda from its membership for alleged “anti-party activities”.

india Updated: Jun 22, 2018 10:11 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Baijayant Panda,BJD,Biju Janata Dal
Baijayant Panda said was targeted and humiliated in the BJD.(File Photo)

Biju Janata Dal’s Baijayant Panda resigned from the party last month, citing the “kind of politics into which our BJD has descended”. In January this year, the party suspended Panda from its membership for alleged “anti-party activities”. In an interview with Saubhadra Chatterji, Panda talks about why he resigned and his views on the current government at the Centre. Excerpts:

You were seen as the face of BJD in Delhi. What went wrong?

I had been involved with the BJD since its inception and stood with Naveen Patnaik through thick and thin. Things started going wrong only in the fourth term of the BJD government. The BJD was formed to counter crime and corruption. Naveen had sacked 36 ministers in the first three terms and took action against many bureaucrats. Now, there is a new coterie after the ouster of Pyarimohan Mahapatra. The party also veered from its principles. There have been many more allegations but the party didn’t take action. In the last four years, I was targeted and humiliated in the party. Last year, when I was assaulted, Naveen did nothing. It was getting untenable to continue.

What is your future plan? Are you joining the BJP?

I am introspecting as this traumatic transition was not planned. I came from a non-political background but having put in two decades into politics and after developing some track record in structural changes and reforms, if there is a way that I can continue to contribute to the country’s reforms and Odisha’s development, I should keep the option open. I have friends in all parties and they have given me feedback. Also, I am spending more time in my constituency.

Do you think the Modi government is good for Odisha?

I have supported many policies of the Modi government as I had been supportive of them for many years. I was against VIP perks, I am a strong supporter of Aadhaar, and direct cash transfer. It so happens that these things have been pushed harder during the Modi government. Some people say I am supporting Modi. I can claim that the government is pushing my policies. But I feel whichever government is there at the Centre, the state must work together with it for better development. I think this government’s policies can be harnessed for Odisha’s benefits.

But the BJP government is accused of dilly-dallying on the Mahanadi row.

No Odia can ever have a view that our waters can be compromised. I have concerns but having said that, let me say that the Odisha government said in assembly there is no threat from Chhattisgarh over Mahanadi water. Odisha has not built a single barrage in the last 18 years while Chhattisgarh has been building them.

Naveen Patnaik will complete his fourth term and observers feel he is still formidable.

But things are deteriorating. For example, NCRB records show Odisha has seen a 50% rise in crime against women since 2014. In infant mortality, we are the second-last among states. Last year in Panchayat polls, the BJD’s seats reduced for the first time since its inception. Although Naveen remains the tallest figure in state politics, the party’s popularity is slipping. Contractors are now the stakeholders of the party. The landscape has also changed with the BJP now a clear number two. In the next election, these things will hurt the BJD’s prospects.

Do you want to contest 2019 LS polls from Kendrapara?

I have worked very hard in Kendrapara, my constituency. I got enormous love and affection in Kendrapara and that puts an obligation on me to continue to serve them. I am yet to decide how I do it all.

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 22:23 IST