Odisha still at rock bottom of social parameters, deserves better: Jay Panda

Bhubaneswar: Former BJD MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda on Thursday expressed concerns over development of Odisha as the State still lags in several social parameters as compared to other states in the country.

In an interview to NDTV, Panda said that 18 years ago Odisha was at the bottom of all the states on most of the social parameters but despite some improvements, the State is still at rock bottom.

“On some it is second from bottom and the best one is fourth from bottom. I think, Odisha deserves better,” said the former MP.

Speaking on Odisha’s political scenario, Panda said the BJD that gradually grew to become the largest party of Odisha still retains its position. “Over the past 3-4 years, the BJP has grown and now become a clear No 2 party in the State, but Congress shouldn’t be written  off as it has presence in every village. It has got a new PCC president who has suddenly made the party very active. So, a lot can happen between now and the upcoming election.”

Answering to a question on his future course of action, Panda said, “I am considering all options. Politics is not the be all and end all. I can serve the people of my State in many ways other than being in politics and I will continue to work for the people of Odisha.”

On the allegations that he had been flirting with other political parties, Panda said: “It was my job to keep good relations with national parties because of Odisha’s interest. So in a sense, if there are allegations of flirting with any party, I was flirting with all political parties. I have friends in all national parties and I kept in touch with all of them but that does not mean I was working at their behest.”

When asked about the prospects of ‘Mahagathbandhan’ by the major political parties in the country to counter BJP in the 2019 general elections, the parliamentarian said that the united opposition should be taken seriously but it first needs a credible face to counter PM Narendra Modi who is currently the most popular politician in the country.

“As of now, the united opposition lacks such a credible face but in politics, anything can happen,” said Panda on being asked whether Rahul Gandhi could be a credible face of opposition in national politics.