Vikash Sharma

The expulsion of two leaders including Khandapada MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) triggered a political slugfest in Odisha on Thursday. Soumya’s expulsion came after the BJD removed him from the post of vice president on September 12.

Soumya’s expulsion from the BJD has left many questions unanswered. Was he expelled for the alleged loan scam or for some other reason? Did BJD learn about the loan scam recently and why it failed to get a sniff when it sent Soumya to Rajya Sabha? Was Soumya axed for spewing venom against the 5T Secretary, particularly on the expenses being incurred on the latter's district visits?

It is being said that Soumya’s editorials and statements that the Secretary cannot get involved in politics proved costly for him. It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha CM and BJD Supremo Naveen Patnaik made the announcement regarding the expulsion of Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Remuna MLA Sudhanshu Sekhar Parida citing anti-people activities.

Another question that is rising in the minds of political observers is - Did Soumya force Naveen Patnaik to come before the media to announce his expulsion by raising doubts about the signature on the earlier order for his removal from the BJD Vice-President post? Was it a planned move by the BJD as the Opposition BJP and Congress had been alleging that the entire administration is not in the hands of CM Naveen Patnaik and it is the 5T secretary who is calling the shots?

The Leader of Opposition (LoP), Jayanarayan Mishra said, “BJD is not a democratic party and it has been proved again today. An editor is not answerable to the state government or party for whatever is published in the newspaper. Expelling Soumya Ranjan Patnaik without giving him a show-cause is undemocratic.”

Mishra further said, “Whatever action has been taken, it clearly shows that the state government has taken such decision intentionally after Soumya Ranjan Patnaik questioned who is superior - a secretary or a people's representative.”

“If there were any allegations against Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, what was the BJD doing? He should have been served a show-cause notice and the action should have been taken by the disciplinary committee,” Mishra added.

Senior journalist, Prasanna Mohanty said, “It can be a strategy as the party has axed 4 MLAs so far over zero-tolerance to corruption stand. Moreover, as a message was going out that the state government is attempting to muzzle media; it could also be a step to address the same.”

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