Pradeep Pattanayak

The infighting in the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was once again out in the open during the Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha programme at Astarang in Puri where Minister of State for Home, Tusharkanti Behera had to face an embarrassing situation. 

Sources said the block administration had invited local MLA and Minister Tusharkanti Behera to the Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha programme organised at Astarang. At the same time, since Astarang block chairperson Arati Nayak and sarpanch Ramachandra Kandi are the supporters of former Kakatpur MLA Surendra Sethi, they had invited Sethi to the said programme. 

As Minister Behera didn’t turn up at the venue even after a long wait, the Astarang block chairperson and sarpanch got the programme inaugurated by former MLA Sethi. 

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Later Minister Behera reached the spot and asked the Block Development Officer (BDO) why outsiders were sitting on the dais. This was enough to raise the hackles of the supporters of Sethi. Soon, there was a face-off between the two factions. 

Adding fuel to the fire, the block chairperson from the dais asked what was wrong with a former MLA sitting on the dais. 

The situation came to such a pass that the BDO and the block chairperson were seen pushing each other to grab at the microphone. 

Police deployed at the spot had a harrowing time to bring the situation under control. 

“The Minister was invited to the programme as the chief guest. Before his arrival, the local sarpanch and husband of the former chairperson took some people onto the dais. The matter was resolved after the sarpanch apologised for the mistake,” said Champak Barik, a supporter of Minister Behera. 

However, former Kakatpur MLA, Sethi said they don’t have any differences. “Today, we accorded ample respect to the Minister. He was also sitting on the dais. We don’t have any differences,” said Sethi.


(Reported by Sanjay Pati)