Mrunal Manmay Dash

The former top bureaucrat and Congress leader Bijay Kumar Patnaik met senior party leaders in Bhubaneswar on Monday fuelling speculations of contesting elections from the parliamentary constituency.

As per reports, Patnaik met Jatni MLA Suresh Routray and former Odisha Chief Minister Janaki Ballav Patnaik’s son Pruthvi Ballav Patnaik in Bhubaneswar.

Asked about the meetings, Patnaik said, “Suresh Routray is my senior. He was my senior in college. He was a Minister during my tenure as a bureaucrat. I am too close to him. So I wanted to meet him. It is common courtesy to meet the seniors when you go to someplace new.”

“This was not a formal meeting but a friendly one,” Patnaik added.

Though Patnaik avoided hints at contesting elections from Bhubaneswar, Suresh Routray said that it will be good if he (Patnaik) actually does so.

“I was more than happy when Bijay Patnaik joined Congress. Congress needs such leaders who have sacrificed a lot and are dedicated and honest. Patnaik is a retired Chief Secretary and has a clean image. His father was also an IAS. He belongs to a reputed family. We need such people in our party,” Routray said.

Patnaik had joined the Congress at an event at party headquarters in New Delhi on February 10.

Once considered one of the most powerful bureaucrats in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's government, Patnaik joined the Congress camp in presence of the party's Odisha in-charge A Chellakumar, and state unit president Sarat Pattanayak.

(Reported By Niranjan Reddy, OTV)