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BJD sacks party vice-president critical of Naveen Patnaik

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
September 12, 2023 19:25 IST
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Ruling Biju Janata Dal vice-president Soumya Ranjan Patnaik was removed from his post on Tuesday, months before the simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Odisha for allegedly writing critical editorials in his Odia daily.

IMAGE: Soumya Ranjan Patnaik. Photograph: Kind courtesy @SoumyaSambad on X

The party has, however, not cited any reason for removing him from the party post.

'Shri Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, vice-president, Biju Janata Dal, is hereby removed from the post of vice-president with immediate effect,' a party release signed by BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.


The action against the party vice-president came after senior leaders including some ministers accused him of 'blackmailing' the party by writing critical editorials in his Odia daily Sambad, considered to have the largest circulation in the state, and giving statements in television channels.

Reacting to his removal from the party post, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said, "It is the party president's discretion as to who he will take in his team. The BJD president had appointed me its vice-president. Now he has removed me, there is nothing unusual in this."

"Positions in BJD are only ceremonial. Neither I nor any other BJD leader in any position has any work in actuality. So I don't think I lost anything by losing the vice president's post," he said.

The lawmaker from Khandapada in Nayagarh district also raised question on the official notice which was signed by the chief minister.

"I doubt if this is the chief minister's own signature on the letter at all. I had sought a two-minute appointment with the chief minister a week ago. I was denied it and now the party has removed me from the post of its vice-president. Therefore, I have reasons to doubt whether this is the CM's signature," he told reporters in Bhubaneswar.

"Politics does not come to an end on one decision and on one day," was his cryptic comment when asked.

Soumya Ranjan Patnaik had recently criticised the manner in which the state government functions and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's private secretary V K Pandian's whirlwind tour of the state with money from the public exchequer.

The lawmaker in his editorial piece drew a parallel between the expenditure made towards Pandian's air travel within the state and the amount spent in India's moon mission Chandrayan-3. He said the cost of Pandian's tour could be equal to expenditure for Chandrayan-3.

Soumya Ranjan Patnaik rejected the allegation that he was 'blackmailing' the party and claimed that he gave some suggestions for the advancement of BJD, which according to him is most popular in the state under leadership of Naveen Patnaik.

His elder brother and veteran Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik said, "Soumya Patnaik was chosen as BJP's vice-president by Naveen Patnaik himself. Though this is BJD's internal matter, removing him proves that it is an autocratic party. These kind of things do not happen in Congress. Our president and vice-presidents are elected by party members."

The state holds simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls. Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 assembly seats.

The ruling BJD has been in power since 2000 under Naveen Patnaik.

The son-in-law of former chief minister J B Patnaik, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik had joined BJD in 2018 and was sent to the Rajya Sabha.

Later he contested from Khandapada assembly segment and won the seat at a margin of 81,000 votes, the state's highest winning margin by any party.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.