Reported By: Mahesh Nanda
Last Updated: September 12, 2023, 22:29 IST
Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday removed Khandapada MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik from his party’s vice-president post allegedly due to anti-party activities.
“Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Vice-President, BJD is hereby removed from the post of vice-president with immediate effect,” the BJD’s order release stated.
While the official statement mentions no specific behind the action, some senior party leaders alleged, that Soumya Pattanaik was stripped of his position due to anti-party activities as he was making remarks against the BJD.
Lately, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik has been criticising the Odisha government and the 5T Secretary’s visits in his editorials as well as media statements. Earlier, the BJD leader had also made veiled attacks on the 5T Secretary and compared his tour expenses with the Chandrayaan 3 mission.
According to political experts, BJD’s action against Soumya is a testament that the party has resorted to pressure tactics.
Meanwhile, reacting to his removal from the party’s key post, Soumya Ranjan Patnaik said “Positions in BJD are only ceremonial. Neither I nor any other vice president has any work to do in actuality. So I don’t think I lost anything by losing the VP post. Moreover, I doubt if this is the Chief Minister’s signature or not on the letter at all.”
Meanwhile, BJD Rajya Sabha MP Sasmit Patra said, “Soumya has been giving anti-party views for a long time. He is blackmailing BJD because he was not given the post of minister. The president no longer has faith in Soumya Ranjan. Sasmit said that he hoped, he would resign from the post of MLA immediately.”
Similarly, BJD Rajya Sabha MP Amar Patnaik said ” The statements of Soumya is not acceptable, general workers and party members meet BJD President Naveen Patnaik regularly. The complaint that Soumya could not meet the Chief Minister is not correct. It is not acceptable to defame the party being a leader of BJD “
On the other hand, opposition leaders in Odisha have come out in support of the BJD leader.
Former PCC President Niranjan Patnaik said Soumya Pattnaik is an independent-minded person. He always thinks for his party, the state and the people. He says Soumya can judge whether he is right or wrong, and the people will judge. Action is the secondary management method. Naveen appointed him, then removed. Though this is BJD’s internal matter, removing him proves it is an autocratic party. These kinds of things do not happen in Congress. Our President & VP are elected by party members said Niranjan Patnaik.
BJP leader Pradip Purohit has expressed doubts about the signature of the Chief Minister.
“By removing Soumya Pattnaik from the post of vice president, the party will not be strengthened but the 5T secretary will be strengthened. Soumya did not blackmail the party but BJD was blackmailing Soumya not to write an editorial,” Purohit said.
With Soumya denying to resign as MLA, the drift between BJD and its former vice president is believed to be deepening.
Political Experts believe that the BJD may take further action against Soumy Ranjan Patnaik and if it does happen in the the future, he might join some other party as many doors would be open for him.
For the unversed, before joining the BJD, Soumya had formed his party “Ama Odisha” but could not establish strong political ground.
Later, he joined BJD in March 2018. After joining BJD, he was nominated as Rajya Sabha MP and after the 2019 General elections, Soumya was elected as MLA from the BJD from Khandapara Constituency with a record vote.