Bhubaneswar, Feb 8: Recalling the rebellion of former BJD MP Baijayant 'Jay' Panda, who was considered close to the Patnaik family, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader VK Pandian claimed that Jay Panda was "unhappy" at not being made Finance Committee's head in 2014. In an interview with ANI, Pandian said there had been allegations against Panda of using his Finance Committee membership for obtaining loans for his corporate business written off through banks.
"In the 2014 elections, BJD had won 20 out of 21 seats in Lok Sabha. For the first time in parliamentary history, BJD became fourth largest party. Jay Panda called the Chief Minister after the swearing-in was over, government formation had happened, and they were forming all these committees. He claimed that the late Jaitley Ji (Arun Jaitley) had spoken to him and said that in case your party will nominate you for the committee chairmanship, then we would be interested in giving you the finance committee. It's the biggest committee or the most powerful committee. Panda told the CM, if you will nominate me, then they will give it to me. The CM asked, whoever BJD nominates, if they are willing to give, it's okay. But if I have to nominate you, then only it will be given, it doesn't sound good." Pandian said.
"He (Panda) had previous instances where he was a member of the Finance Committee and he got many of his loans for his corporate business written off through banks. So there was always an allegation that he used his Finance Committee membership to get these favours done for the company. So that played in the Chief Minister's mind. So he didn't agree. to make him as Finance Committee's head. And after that, Jay Panda was not very happy with this decision" Pandian recalled.
Pandian also said that at the time it was Jay Panda who allegedly spread news about Naveen Patnaik not being in the best of Health. Pandian said that Odisha CM was very "upset by the narratives" against him and then CM Patnaik decided that it is high time that party should move away from people whom they once "trusted." "Nine years back, whenever any Union Minister would meet the Chief minister they would ask first, how is your health Naveen Babu? The CM would say, I am fine. I don't have any problem. And they would say, Jai said that your health is not good. That hit him" Pandian recalled.
"Once a very powerful political leader in Madhya Pradesh called Prem Patnaik, Chief Minister's brother, and asked him, Naveen Babu is going to London for a treatment, this is 2015-16, why don't you take my help? Prem Patnaik said, who told you this? The leader said, Jai told me that he is arranging everything. This leader from Madhya Pradesh called Naveen Babu and asked, do you need any help in London? He said, no, I am not going. Why I should go? I just went two years back and they attempted a coup on me. I am not going. Then he said, no, I was told by Jai that you are going for some medical treatment and everything. Then CM was very upset. At that point of time, there was articles, about how bad the chief minister's health is and how he should find somebody to take over the party and the government. And that was the narrative being played. And that is when the Chief Minister decided, it's high time that we move away from people whom we once trusted" Pandian said. Pandian said that Jay Panda had tried to create a narrative that the BJD needs to look for new leadership as the CM's health was failing.
"He (Panda) tried to create a narrative that Chief Minister's health is not good and people should look for new leadership. And he was standing there as the fresh leader. or the competent leader to take over. So this is what was being played, which the Chief Minister did not like. There was absolutely no truth. The damage what Jay Panda tried to create was substantial and it was not good for a person who used to have dinner and lunch with the Chief Minister to do this behind his back. Naveen Babu believes in very ethical kind of politics" Pandian said.
Jay Panda was suspended from the BJD for his "anti-party activities" in January 2018. On May 28, 2018, Panda ended his over 18 year old association with BJD by quitting the party.
In his strong-worded resignation letter addressed to Naveen Patnaik, Panda had stated that he was disappointed with the kind of politics being practised by the party. "It's with deep anguish, hurt and sorrow that I have decided to quit the politics into which our BJD has descended," Panda had written. In 2019, Jay Panda joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. (ANI)