‘Will no longer be showpieces’: BJP leaders Dilip Ray, Bijoy Mahapatra resign from party in Odisha
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‘Will no longer be showpieces’: BJP leaders Dilip Ray, Bijoy Mahapatra resign from party in Odisha

BJP state unit president Basant Panda said Ray and Mahaptra’s exit would not affect the party’s prospects in the state. “Whether to stay or leave the party is an individual’s personal decision,” said Panda.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2018 12:50 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Dilip Ray,Bijoy Mahapatra,BJP
Senior BJP leaders Dilip Ray resigned on Friday, just days after party’s Odisha unit got a shot in its arm by including former IAS officer Aparajita Sarangi.(DilipRay/Twitter)

The BJP received a jolt after senior leaders from Odisha, Dilip Ray and Bijoy Mahapatra, resigned from the party on Friday, days after it got a shot in the arm by including former bureaucrat Aparajita Sarangi within its fold in the eastern state.

In a resignation letter sent to party president Amit Shah, both Mahapatra and Ray said as self-respecting politicians with decades of service to Odisha, they would no longer “continue in the party as showpieces”.

“For us, the interest of the state is supreme. We have never ever compromised our self-respect or the interest of the state for any post, power or ticket. The well-meaning suggestions by us to you were construed as a threat by certain egocentric self-servicing individuals who resorted to dirty tricks and a campaign was launched in our respective constituencies to try and deride us,” Ray and Mahapatra said in the letter.

Ray, who is MLA from Rourkela assembly constituency, also resigned from the state assembly. Mahapatra, who joined the BJP in 2009 after being in the political wilderness for close to a decade, was member of party’s national executive. Ray and Mahapatra are likely to join the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) soon.

Ray, who had fallen foul with the BJP leadership for over three years, took to Twitter to vent his anger against the saffron party over two unfulfilled promises relating to the construction of a new bridge over the Brahmani River in Rourkela and upgradation of the existing Ispat General Hospital to a super speciality hospital.

“In 2014, after a long gap, I decided to make a comeback to electoral politics and contest the Rourkela Assembly Constituency seat. Riding on the charismatic presence of Narendra Modi and the progressive change the BJP had promised, I had envisioned a whole lot of development works for the city and had promised to fulfill the long ignored dreams and aspirations of the people who had reposed their faith in me,” Ray wrote on Twitter.

“Among others, Brahmani Bridge and the upgradation of IGH to a Medical College cum Super Speciality Hospital were the two most burning issues concerning the region. However, the relentless efforts and the intense follow-ups on my part have not been able to produce the desired results,” he said.

He said the Centre has an impeccable track record of ensuring execution of several development work under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “But unfortunately, nothing much has happened in Rourkela.”

“The decision to quit is emotionally too painful and difficult for me but I do think that this, at present, is best suited to the interest of Rourkela. I hope my constituents will understand the unavoidable circumstances that rendered it necessary for me to take this difficult decision,” Ray said.

BJP state unit president Basant Panda said Ray and Mahapatra’s exit would not affect the party’s prospects in the state. “Whether to stay or leave the party is an individual’s personal decision,” said Panda.

Ray was already sore with the BJP leadership after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheeted him in 2016 in the coal scam case over the allotment of Brahmadiha coal block in Jharkhand to Castron Technologies Limited in 1999 while he was a minister of state for coal in the erstwhile NDA government.

Currently facing trial in the case, Ray believes Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan to be behind CBI dragging his name in the coal scam case.

Political analysts said the resignation of Ray and Mahapatra from the BJP would be a huge setback to the party, which is eyeing a rich haul of seats in the Lok Sabha elections next year.

Mahapatra, who was already embarrassing the BJP over his comments on the Mahanadi River water dispute with Chhattisgarh, is likely to make it difficult for the saffron party in undivided Cuttack district where he has some influence.

“Besides, Mahapatra can contest as Independent or BJD-backed candidate from Kendrapara Lok Sabha to restrict the influence of former BJD MP from Kendrapara, Baijayant Panda,” SP Dash, a former political science professor at Sambalpur University, said.

Ray’s exit from the BJP is also likely to hamper the prospects of the party in Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat, the only constituency that it won in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll.

Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram scraped through the contest with a narrow margin against former Indian hockey defender Dilip Tirkey of the BJD solely on the basis of the lead provided in Rourkela assembly constituency.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 12:49 IST