Pradeep Pattanayak

The infighting in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) spilled out into the open on Sunday when legendary leader Biju Patnaik’s birth anniversary was being celebrated across the state. 

In Balasore, two different pictures emerged on Sunday showing the infighting in the conch party. 

While Minister Ashwini Patra’s group celebrated the Panchayati Raj Divas and Biju Jayanti at Town Hall ground, former block vice president and Samiti member Braja Pradhan observed the day with thousands of his supporters at Baiganbadia. From the dais, the supporters of Pradhan spew venom at Minister Patra. 

“Believing in Naveen Patnaik, we voted him to power. But after being made a Minister, his behaviour towards the people has changed. They are rejecting him. And what we did today was in accordance with the people’s opinion,” said Kalicharan Jena, a Biju Janata Dal leader. 

“If people are dissatisfied, they will show it clearly,” said Braja Pradhan, a Samiti member. 

“As per the direction of the Minister, we celebrated Biju Jayanti at Jaleswar Bad Bazaar,” said Dilip Samal, Jaleswar BJD president. 

The same picture also emerged from Nilgiri. BJD leaders Santosh Khatua and Subhendu Mangaraj along with their respective groups garlanded the statue of Biju Patnaik at the bypass near the bus stand at different times. 

“What you are seeing is not the reflection of the difference of opinion in the party. The BJD is united. In the Naveen Patnaik rule, discipline is quintessential. If anyone is going against the party line, punishment is inevitable,” said Santosh Khatua, BJD leader, Jaleswar. 

“We have not worked against the party line. Our party has one leader and he is Naveen Patnaik and we are working under him,” said Subhendu Mangaraj, BJD leader. 

The situations in Puri, Rayagada and Keonjhar’s Anandapur subdivision were not different either. 

In Puri, two groups of district BJD president Maheswar Mohanty and state vice president of Biju Yuva Janata Dal Subhashis Khuntia observed the day separately. In Rayagada, former MP N Bhaskar Rao and BJD leader Y. Venkateswar Rao along with their supporters celebrated the day separately. In Rayagada, the two groups even confronted each other at Kapilas traffic square. 

“We all the leaders here observed the day unitedly but I can’t say anything about what N Bhaskar Rao did,” said BJD leader Y. Venkateswar Rao. 

When asked, N Bhaskar Rao said he had done it according to the party’s direction. “I am not the person to comment on what they did. The party will take a decision in this regard.”

In Anandapur, hoardings and banners of Biju Patnaik, Naveen Patnaik, and MLA Pranab Prakash Das put up at the BJD Lovers office were found pulled down and torn.

“We believe it is the handwork of some leaders. It was a plan to sabotage our programme of celebrating Biju Jayanti,” alleged Debaranjan Sahu, Biju Yuva Janata Dal leader.