Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Odisha government continues to draw flak for canceling the students' union elections with Khandapada MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik launching a fresh attack on the ruling BJD over the issue on Wednesday.

Addressing the public at Shiali Bali Yatra in Jagatsinghpur’s Ersama block, the former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader took a veiled attack on the BJD. Patnaik said he was ousted from the party because he dared to say the truth.

“Student’s union election provides scope to grow leadership quality among youths. The Odisha government has never provided this scope to our students. But again, who has never been a baraati would never know what it’s like to be married,” Patnaik said while taking a dig at BJD leaders.

“Nobody can become a leader by wearing jeans and a white shirt or printing your designation on a letterhead. You need to go to the people and share their problems,” he said.

This is not the first time Patnaik has raised the students' union election issue. In July this year, addressing the students on the foundation day of the Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanja Deo (MSCB) University in Baripada, Patnaik had asked, why does the government fear student leaders?

Soumya Ranjan Patnaik has been on the news for criticising his own party several times particularly the then 5T Secretary VK Pandian in the past which ultimately resulted in his ouster from the party.

Showing open disagreement to Pandian’s visits to various districts, Patnaik stated that a bureaucrat can not involve in politics while being a secretary.

"I am openly saying that 5T Secretary cannot do politics while being a secretary. As per my sources, BJD workers at the grassroots level support my statement. However, if some people with a vested interest will run the party in the name of CM, it is not acceptable," the legislator had said.

Later, Odisha Chief Minister and president of Biju Janata Dal Naveen Patnaik expelled him from the party on September 21.

It is pertinent to mention here that no student union elections in colleges and universities across Odisha have been held since 2018.