Jay Panda once again in CM Naveen’s narrative, says ‘reconciliation with Panda didn’t work’

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik continued his tirade against his former BJD colleague Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda while speaking to news agency ANI today. He also stated that though he tried a reconciliation with the former parliamentarian, “it didn’t work.”

In the interview, Patnaik listed out three reasons for snapping ties with former Kendrapara MP Jay Panda. The BJD president further alleged that a rumour campaign was spearheaded by Panda.

“I was pursuing the development of railways in Kendrapara. It is the only district in the coast which has no rail development. A former Railways Minister laughed and said that ‘you are pursuing development of railways in Kendrapara but your MP (Jay Panda) is only concerned about railway development to his mining companies. “This shocked me,” Patnaik stated.

The Chief Minister further alleged, “After 2014, a number of my friends from Delhi rang up very concerned because they thought I was in bad health. But my health has always been good and I told them so. They told me that this is what Baijayant Panda was spreading. This was a shock.”

In his interview, Patnaik listed a third reason for severing ties with Panda and said, “He (Baijayant Panda) wanted to be Chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee. Our party did not have sufficient numbers so he thought he would get the support of the BJP. I didn’t think this was a good idea and I didn’t support him because of the financial dealings of his company. I didn’t think this would be a good precedent.”

Responding to a query whether he approached Jay Panda for any reconciliation, Patnaik said he did but it did not work. “He (Jay Panda) has big political ambitions. He started doing a number of anti-party activities and he was strongly leaning towards the BJP…that’s how it all ended,” the chief minister stated.

When asked about the allegation that Pandian was the ‘Shadow CM’ of Odisha, the chief minister said this was a rumour that has been there since 2000. “I don’t think this is possible for one human being to do everything… we have good bureaucrats who are for the development of the state,” he said.

Speaking about his relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CM Naveen said, “I have met Mr Modi, I meet him officially several times, it is a perfectly civil relationship between the prime minister and a chief minister.”

Asked about anti-incumbency wave in the State, Patnaik said these were not true. “In every election, our numbers are increasing, not decreasing,” he added.

Earlier in the day, addressing a poll rally in Rajkanika of Kendrapara, CM Naveen also targeted Panda and said that he was not worried about industries or creating employment for youth in Kendrapara but was only concerned for his own industries.

However, rubbishing the allegations levelled by Patnaik that Panda lobbied with the Central government to get railway lines laid to his mining companies rather than Kendrapara district, the former Kendrapara MP and BJP national vice-president said to ANI earlier in the day that Patnaik was making “wild, unsubstantiated allegations.”

“Utter rubbish. I am disappointed that Naveen (Patnaik) has reduced himself to this state of making wild, unsubstantiated allegations. Sometimes he cries like a schoolboy. Sometimes he says I am complaining about his health. Sometimes he says I’m coveting his chair. In 18 years in the government I have never coveted any post,” said Panda during a poll campaign earlier today in Kendrapara.

Jay Panda said the people of Kendrapara knew how much he “slogged” to get the railway project started.

“For 18 years, Naveen did not find anything dubious in me. For 90 years the relationship between my grandfather and his, the very close relationship between my father and Naveen’s father and the fact that late Biju uncle constantly supported and encouraged our family’s businesses which have created 10,000 jobs in Odisha cannot be brushed aside. None of these allegations came up till last year,” said Panda.

“I brought steel magnates here but projects got stalled because some people were scared as to who would get credit. I think Naveen is behaving very childishly,” added Panda.

He also questioned claims made by the Naveen Patnaik-led government that development projects were completed successfully. “I had conducted a survey in my first tenure. On paper 8,700 pucca (permanent) houses were constructed in Kendrapara. When I conducted an audit, only 160 could be found. About 8,500 were built on paper,” said Panda.

Jay Panda further said, “Everyone knows that this IAS officer called Pandian has taken over the Government of Odisha. He is sheltering criminals, he is sheltering people accused in chit fund scam and mining scam and yet they are throwing accusations at me. This is simply ridiculous.”

(The report is based on ANI inputs published earlier today)