Jay Panda’s journey in writing from columns to tweets & now resignation letter

By Kasturi Ray

Baijayant Jay Panda resigned. A move that was long awaited, anticipated and apprehended. The long pitched war of words that was continuing for months reached the zenith and calmed down the raging heat with the three-page letter the parliamentarian wrote to BJD supremo. Playing smart and maybe buying some time before accepting the letter (since the move came suddenly), the CM fell back on the late Bansidhar Panda’s death as a reason for not reacting or responding to the resignation letter for a few days. The same man Bansidhar, to whom an ‘elite and erudite’ Naveen did not pay last tributes on May 22 before he was consigned to flames, exactly six days ago!

The allegations of dissidence against the parliamentarian started taking roots when he voiced his opinion vociferously through editorials in national mainstream newspapers without any fear of contradiction and the topics revolved around politics – from the NDA government, its schemes and effectiveness to his own party, the BJD that got a jolt after the panchayat polls last year. Learned and well read, the MP, most of us would agree has always called a spade a spade. So were his outpours on the panchayat poll debacle that the BJD was not prepared for. Being a spokesperson, he was fast enough to accept that the party needs an introspection as to what went wrong and what can be done to resurrect the lost forts. The BJD, which of late, has shown all signs of intolerance, did not digest it and removed him as spokesperson.

For someone who is equally friendly on social media, he has had a penchant for writing on the micro-blogging forum Twitter. Much earlier than the CM had his twitter handle in place, the MP had his twitter streams running riot – so much to have had 12.7k posts so far. Tech savvy and fast to disseminate information, Panda did not wait for approvals before writing his thoughts and kept interacting with people in free wheel conversations on the forum. But his tweets, that’s the fastest means of communication and which the CM had himself asked his rank and file to be active on, were also not acceptable to the party and its supremo.

That the battle lines were drawn became evident when the MP started speaking against the interference of bureaucracy in party affairs. After a brief period, physical attacks were orchestrated against him, disruptions were created before he went to inaugurate the water tank projects he had built with MPLAD funds, inquiries against him began and soon followed his suspension in January this year.

A party that Panda had been a founding member of left no opportunity to humiliate and harass him and caused trouble to anything associated with him. So much so that the party decided to boycott attending the funeral of his father, who, more than being identified as the father of the parliamentarian was the son of the soil and contributed to the growth of the state in a big way.

Panda carried forward the responsibility of a seat – Kendrapara – that the towering Biju Patnaik had represented and it was not an easy job! But Panda lived up to the expectations and beyond. He was one of the few who carried Biju Babu on his shoulders to his funeral pyre for the reverence he had, which continues even today.

CM Naveen has been riding on political success for four consecutive terms and shows two significant signs – first he doesn’t seem to be in best of health and second, arrogance reflects on his face and body language. While physical weakness might be bothering him, arrogance makes him inert to anything around him if it affects his image, he is so conscious about. If we take Pyari Mohapatra’s example, anyone who becomes a power centre becomes a threat for CM. Jay Panda may not exactly have been a power centre but his image and activities as a leader of masses, leadership not only while representing his state but the country at international fora and his equations with people cutting across party lines made it evident that he was considered as a force to reckon with.

Jay Panda, all said and done, set a precedent. He earns the reputation of being the lone leader to fight against the system in the state and never went back on his words. And mostly he earned the wrath of his partymen by writing. As is his wont, he won’t stop writing columns, neither would he stop creating flutter through Twitter.