Won’t fight with anybody, will fight for good governance in Odisha: Jay Panda opens up

New Delhi/ Bhubaneswar: Opening up for the first time after submitting his resignation from BJD, Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda, today said that he does not want to take on any individual neither wants to break somebody’s vote bank; rather will fight for the agenda which he has been championing for the last 18 years.

In an interview to Republic TV, Panda detailed how the party which he helped form has deviated from the core principles on which it was built and how he ultimately became the target for being vocal about such deviances within the party.

“It was only in the past three or four years when things started going wrong. Anyone who has been watching Odisha has seen how things have deteriorated over the course of the last one year, including humiliations to me and physical assault. The last straw was when my father, who had nothing to do with politics and was very close to Biju Patnaik passed away and for Naveen Patnaik to not come or not allow anybody from the BJD to come and pay their last respects has been widely criticised in Odisha and it deeply hurt me. It made me realise that I should be ashamed to any longer be a part of the party which in any case in the last three or four years has deviated dramatically from its own original principles and has now come to such a low level, such mean-mindedness and pettiness that I decided to move on,” said Panda adding that even if I had been an opponent or an enemy of someone they should still nevertheless come for the funeral if they can and I was not Naveen Patnaik’s opponent or enemy.

“There have been a lot of talks that there’s a new coterie in the last four years which has taken control of the party and its president. There is a serving bureaucrat who, it has been alleged is collecting political funds, distributing funds and party tickets; and there are several major political leaders who have been alleging the same,” added Panda.

On being asked whether the bureaucrat he was referring to was the de facto Chief Minister, Panda said “Many people are saying that. I think that it’s odd that a serving officer is alleged to be indulging in direct politics and I think it calls for a major investigation. I think it’s odd where people have reported widely that in the last three or four years no one is able to meet the chief minister directly and has to take political instructions from this serving officer. I have not heard anyone meeting the chief minister one-on-one. The same officer is always with him at all times.”

When asked that if he means to say that Naveen Patnaik is not running the state, Panda said “Naveen Patnaik has once or twice dismissed these allegations but the reality is that there is an unconstitutional exercise of power that needs focused attention to be exposed.”

On his links with the BJP, Panda said that “I have friends in every party across the spectrum but I am certainly not working with any other party. I think and believe I have created a credible track record of suggesting real changes in Parliamentary reforms and real changes that will impact development and governance on the ground.”

Speaking on his family businesses being targeted, Panda said that his family members’ business interests were all targeted, shut down on frivolous grounds and lumpen elements vandalised offices and facilities. “When I got involved in politics I have moved an arm’s length away from my family’s business interests. In 18 years no bureaucrat, no politician either at the State or at the national level can say that Jay Panda has ever asked for a favour. I have never asked for any favours or any pecuniary benefits. I have never let my family’s extended business interests come in the way of my politics. The people of Odisha will judge whether there has been unfairness and meanness targeting or not.”

On being asked about plans of joining BJP or Congress, Panda said “I will consider all options. I will do whatever I think is best for the development of India and Odisha.”

To the question -Will Jay Panda form his own party – the parliamentarian said “That’s also an option I should consider. Let me think through my options; let me come to my own conclusion. My intention is not to break anybody’s vote, my intention is to try and see that the best governance comes to Odisha. All the options need consideration. I don’t think any of the options should be thrown out of the window without consideration. I am not interested in taking on an individual; I am not interested in breaking someone’s vote bank; I am interested in the agenda which I have been interested for 18 years happening in Odisha. It had started well, it has got derailed. It needs to happen, Odisha needs better governance.”