Bhubaneswar: A day after his 'removal' from Parliamentary party spokesperson post, Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda on Saturday said it was BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik’s prerogative and he respects it if the decision was taken in the interest of the party.
''I have been tirelessly working for improvement of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for the past 20 years in Odisha and criticized by several BJD leaders for creating an ‘unwarranted’ fuss,'' Panda told a National News Agency in an exclusive interview.
“BJD had a setback in the panchayat elections. The party president Naveen Patnaik had made public announcement that introspection was necessary. The article I wrote was also written in the same context as I am among the very few people who were there with the founder president 20 years ago when the party was founded,” Panda said.
Reacting to the BJD supremo’s directive to refrain from speaking or expressing views on public platforms, Panda said the leaders are expressing thoughts after introspection at the right fora. ''It is not just me but the BJD parliamentary party chief in Lok Sabha Bhatruhari Mahtab has also been outspoken,'' Panda added.
''There is lot of murmur all around the party and it was important that the party leader should hear all of it. He (Naveen) has started taking steps, some of them are good and others may require little more attention.''
“I am trying for my party to heal itself. BJD is the party with whom I have deep connection right from founding days. There are some issues which are not dealt with by the leadership. If by this process such issues can be sorted out, I respect the decision,” Panda added.
BJD said Baijayant went beyond his party position. “He did not play his role properly as a party spokesman and mentioned many views regarding party in his tweeter page. Now, he can tweet as much as he wants as he is no more a spokesperson,” BJD vice-president Surya Narayan Patro said.
Meanwhile, BJP is trying to cash in on the recent controversy in the regional party. Pointing finger at Damodar Rout, the saffron party said why action is not taken against the Agriculture minister for giving similar statement. “The statement made by Damodar Rout is not considered wrong in BJD unlike Baijayant Babu,” BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said.
The Agriculture minister said he has never gone against the party like Baijayant Panda. “His arguments might be based on some facts. But, he should not forget that he is within a party and should not make any statements which could put party in trouble,” Rout added.