After Panda names new young team, seniors grumble

Bhubaneswar: Odisha BJP president Basanta Panda’s Sunday move to select young brigade as members of the State Committee has ostensibly irked the senior members of the party, who were ministers in the BJP-BJD coalition government between 2000 and 2009.

Though they have not vented their ire in open, their remarks on the move tell a tale of their inner resentment.

“It is the rights of the party president to form his own team. He must have taken suggestions from others before preparing the list of members. The members whom he observed the fittest, have been given charges. The important thing is that he has relied on the young brigade for benefit of the team,” a seemingly shaken and former MLA Pratap Sarangi said.

Sarangi was vice-president of the party and former legislator of Nilagiri constituency in Balasore district.

More so, none of the senior party members who were ministers in Naveen Patnaik’s council during the coalition days found a place in the team of office-bearers. The senior brigade includes Manmohan Samal, Samir Dey, Jaya Narayan Mishra, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, KV Singhdeo, Pradipta Naik, Rama Chandra Panda and Surama Padhi. While Samir was a vice-president in the outgoing team, Samal was a general secretary.

Political analysts however feel, by shedding baggage of the old guard, the party is trying to change the public perception that it continues to remain soft towards its estranged allay- BJD. This apart, the young team will deliver on the party’s projection of Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan as its baton-holder-in-waiting, they feel.

“Since Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan has been projected to take charge as the party’s leadership in the State in future, the recent team has been formed keeping in mind his organisational bent of mind. And it is visible that senior leaders have expressed their unhappiness over the party chef’s selection. But the party will be in trouble, if they start to non co-operate with the newly chosen team,” political analyst Rabi Das said.

Meanwhile, Sajjan Sharma, who was announced as the chief spokesperson of the party said the newly appointed team will work in tandem for party’s growth.

“It is the prerogative of the party president to choose his own team. Besides, he has also sought cooperation of all the members for party’s growth,” Sharma stated.

When asked about the exclusion of the senior leaders, Basanta said there was no such attempt to sideline anyone as all former ministers, former and current MLAs/MPs are permanent invitees to the 79-member state executive.

The 24-member State committee of the party, headed by Panda, has seven vice-presidents, five general secretaries and 10 secretaries.