Undeterred by protest, Baijayant launches water project with supporters

Leaders cutting across party lines have sharply criticised the protests. While some tagged it as intra-party squabble, others condemned it as undemocratic

Salipur: Amid protests, Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda today inaugurated an overhead water tank project in presence of hundred of his supporters at Jatiparilo village under Rahania Panchayat near Mahanga in Cuttack district.

The project is one of the 52 ongoing drinking water projects in Kendrapara which will address the water scarcity problem in the area. Each overhead tank will supply 1 lakh litres of water.

Inaugurating the project, Panda said this is the 10th project which became operational. “Imagine how beneficial it will be for the people once 52 lakh litres of water will cater to their needs. I am surprised why local leaders, workers, despite being invited to the inaugural function, protested. The inaugural plaques had names of local leaders and this particular plaque that was damaged yesterday also had the leaders’ name engraved”, Panda added.

Expressing his concern, the MP said the protesting people have to answer the public. “I have been in the party since beginning. In the first 17 years, we had a policy to resist hooliganism and infighting, but in the last three years many things have changed. Some Babus sitting in the A/C rooms have started deciding the party activities leading to indiscipline. These are not good signs. I had apprised the matter to the party chief and I am sure once he gets to know the truth, he will certainly take steps”, Panda pointed out.

The leader braved stones pelted at him while coming back from the project area. He immediately responded through a tweet saying “Leave alone stones, no one can scare me even with bullets”.

The incident has however brought sharp criticism from various quarters including the BJD.

“He might have some personal issues with local people or somebody else. So, law will take its course in the matter”, BJD spokesperson and Cooperation Minister Surya Narayan Patro said. Rejecting the ‘officer-raj’ in the party as stated by the parliamentarian, he said, “Not officers but the party president and district level leaders decide on party activities. Anyway, he is no more a spokesperson. Whatever he is saying is purely personal”, Patro added.

Rajya Sabha member and spokesman Pratap Deb attributed the incident to lack of understanding among local workers and leaders. “It took place due to a misunderstanding. The matter will be taken to the notice of party chief and he will take a call on it”, Deb said. He disagreed with Panda’s remark of ‘goondaraj’ stating that “This is incorrect and unfair”, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Congress has brushed it as intra-party squabble. “The workers and leaders at the grassroots level are upset with BJD president Naveen Patnaik and MP Baijayant Panda. They are showing their anger. It will break their party soon”, senior Congress leader Suresh Routray said.

Senior BJP leader and Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan termed the attack on Baijayant Panda as ‘undemocratic’. “Attack on an MP while he was inaugurating a welfare project constructed from his LAD fund is not an example of a healthy democracy. It happened due to political indifference and personal ego among their leaders,” Pradhan added.

Panda has thanked his constituents and people for their support in a series of tweets.