Pradeep Pattanayak

After remaining low-key for some time, senior BJD leader and former Minister, Sanjay Das Burma is now at the centre of discussions in political corridors. 

Speculations are rife that he has already been offered a ticket for the coming general election. 

He has been the centre of discussions not because of the ticket being offered to him but because of the party getting scared of losing him. 

There was a time when he was one of the most powerful leaders in the party. In 2009, when he was first elected to the Assembly from Brahmagiri seat, he was made the government's Deputy Chief Whip. In the second term, he was made the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister. In 2019, despite his defeat, he was made the deputy chairman of the State Planning Board. 

However, with the passage of time, he was sidelined. First, he was removed from the post of district observer. Then he was separated from the post of deputy chairman of the State Planning Board. It is believed that he was even not given any importance at the BJD’s Foundation Day celebration in Puri or at the Sankha Bhawan’s inauguration ceremony. 

Against this backdrop, he was recently invited to Naveen Niwas. It is discussed that he visited Naveen Niwas and had discussions with top leaders who are looking after the party affairs. He was reportedly offered a ticket for the coming general election. But he is said to be not happy with this as he wants to know why the party sidelined him for such a long time. 

While Sanjay chose to remain silent on this topic, BJD MLA Sashi Bhushan Behera said there is nothing wrong in holding a discussion with a senior leader. 

“Is it wrong to hold discussions with senior leaders? Their opinions are being sought. With this, the party’s strength is only growing,” said Behera. 

According to political pundits, the party can ill afford any dissent ahead of the 2024 elections. The party may have sensed revolt from within. At a meeting held at Brahmagiri last year, Sanjay had alleged that a conspiracy has been hatched to sideline him in Bhubaneswar. This had then ruffled the feathers of many top party leaders. 

Presently, Sanjay’s relationship with the party’s organizational secretary Pranab Prakash Das, MP Pinaki Mishra, Minister Samir Das and MLA Uma Samantaray has soured. And he is learnt to be upset over another leader being projected as a candidate from his bastion Brahmagiri. 

A kind of fear is now gripping the party that Sanjay may snap ties and jump ship. In a bid to stop him from doing so, the party now seems to be in a damage-control mode and is doing everything to pacify Sanjay. 

“They (BJD) may give a ticket to an outsider to contest from his Assembly constituency. But if Sanjay Das Burma is not satisfied, it will have a direct impact on the Puri Parliamentary constituency. In the last election, the party won with a margin of 10,000 votes. The party may lose this time,” said senior journalist, Rabi Das.

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