Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is now a changed man as most of the key decisions of the government are now being taken by a handful of leaders and officers, stated former Kendrapara MP Baijayant 'Jay' Panda.

Speaking at a discussion at New Delhi on Naveen Patnaik's biography written by senior journalist Ruben Banerjee, Panda stated that a 'coterie' has now taken over and managed to sideline leaders who once were Biju loyalists and part of 'Biju Parivar.'

"The coterie has been successful in sidelining those who were a part of Biju Parivar. You will see several examples where tainted officers being given sensitive posts while elected representatives caught on camera in sex and murder sting CD not being dropped. This is not the old Naveen Patnaik whom we were proud of," said Panda.

Panda further stated that one of the brilliant tactical manoeuvres of Naveen Patnaik over the years has been to play-off both National parties against each other. In the last four and a half years of this government, and it's no surprise that there has been lot of allegations of corruptions and CBI and ED investigations certainly petered out," said the former Parliamentarian.

When asked about his next political move, Panda stated that he is yet to take any decision.

"I have not made up my mind yet. One thing that I have been trained by Naveen Patnaik is not to take any decision until it is absolutely essential," quipped Panda.

While speaking on the occasion, author of Naveen’s political biography and editor of Outlook Magazine, Ruben Banerjee asserted that Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik has always been ‘autocratic.’

“Naveen’s politics as far I understand is all about self-preservation. He has always been autocratic and undemocratic from day one,” said Banerjee.

Banerjee however refuted the allegations that Naveen Patnaik is being controlled by a bureaucrat. Rather it is a well planned ploy by Naveen to ensure and eliminate possibilities of rise of any leader within his party.

Senior journalist Rajesh Mohapatra on the other hand stated that Odisha is heading towards a dangerous situation the way corruption at block level has been institutionalized in Odisha.

“It will lead to a financial crisis in Odisha by 2020,” said Mohapatra.

BJP and Congress leaders supported the allegations brought by Jay Panda.

“Earlier, CM Naveen used to sack leaders against whom corruption or any other allegations were levelled. But now things have changed. However, there is no nexus between the BJP and BJD,” said BJP spokesperson, Golak Mohapatra.

Odisha Congress chief, Niranjan Patnaik on the other hand stated “He (Jay Panda) once used to be very close to Naveen Patnaik and might know minute details about him.”

BJD spokesperson, Amar Satpathy on the other hand stated that BJD supported NDA whenever the policies favoured Odisha and we have opposed when it was against the interests of the State.

“There are no double-standards as our stance depend on the policies and interests of Odisha,” said Satpathy.