Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: Hours after his ouster from BJD over ‘anti-people activities’, Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahi on Sunday said he paid price for writing and making call to Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik regarding COVID-19 mismanagement in the State.

Once considered Naveen Patnaik’s 'blue-eyed boy', Panigrahi spewed venom against the ruling-party while addressing a press conferencing that lasted for over an hour.

It is being said that it is probably the first time in the history of BJD that a leader has been expelled from the party for anti-people activities.

Categorically refuting allegations on his involvement in any ‘anti-people activities’, Panigrahi indicated towards a ‘conspiracy’ behind his expulsion from the BJD.

Raking the issue of COVID-19 mismanagement, the legislator said three-time MLA Purna Chandra Swain had sought his help for an ambulance for his father who was tested positive for coronavirus infection.

“Though I had requested additional chief secretary (health) PK Mohapatra, the ambulance did not reach even after 12-13 hours. As a result, I was forced to make a call to the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister responded and made the necessary arrangements,” said Panigrahi.

Swain’s father subsequently died during treatment. However, Swain got calls from Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) inquiring the health condition of his father days after his death on multiple occasions, said Panigrahi.

Citing another example, Panigrahi said that he spoke with the Chief Minister over telephone after Biswaranjan Mohanty apprised him about the possibility of collapse of the State government.

“Following this incident, MLA Pranab Prakash (Bobby) Das and MP Achyuta Samanta came to my house and pulled me for making a call to the chief minister. I had told that if the party doesn’t need me, I will quit and leave the State also. Later, they inquired about my daughter’s marriage which was scheduled for December and said let us see,” alleged Panigrahi.

All Not Well In Administration

Panigrahi also came down heavily on the State of affairs in Odisha and said, “The administration is not being run by the Chief Secretary, but only one person is calling the shots here,” said Panigrahi while making a veiled attack on VK Pandian, Chief Minister’s private secretary.

The leaders who founded the party are being sidelined in the party. Panigrahi alleged that there is discontent among senior leaders in ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) as they are not able to meet Chief Minister and party Supremo Naveen Patnaik.

As the Chief Minister is not aware of many things, I had written letters to him on several issues- migration, COVID-19 management and the experience gained from visit to Surat and Chennai, he said.

“The State government was initially not in favour to bring back the migrant workers following the outbreak of COVID-19. It seems that I am now paying up the price for writing to the Chief Minister,” said Panigrahi.

Was Given Target To Defeat Jay Panda But Was Sidelined After Polls

I was given the responsibility of the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Kendrapara from where former minister finance minister Sashi Bhusan Behera was contesting.

The party had asked me to work to defeat Baijayant Panda and Ganeshwar Behera. I had taken 500 people from Ganjam and camped in Kendrapara.

I was also given responsibility to see party candidates Jitu Mitra and Arup Patnaik win in the polls. Later I was told to focus on Jitu Mitra as Arup Patnaik was not growing.

However, everybody forgot me after the polls and lobby started to take credit, alleged Panigrahi.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)