"BJD chief Naveen Patnaik suspends MP Baijayant Panda from the party on disciplinary grounds," party vice-president SN Patro said this evening.
Mr Panda had been removed as the BJD's parliamentary party spokesperson last year after he had written an article shortly after the rural body polls, criticising the BJD leadership, saying it was being run by "opportunists". It was seen as an open challenge to the Chief Minister.
Over the next few months, he had been targeted by party cadre, usually verbally but there has been one instance in May last year when some people loyal to his rival leader threw eggs and slippers at him.
The four-time lawmaker had anticipated some action in recent days and spoken of a conspiracy to remove him after the party ordered a probe against him, ostensibly because some local BJD leaders complained about the behaviour of the Kendrapara lawmaker with party workers.
When the formal announcement came this evening, Mr Panda said he was "shocked".
Of the many accusations that the party has flung at Mr Panda was that he had criticised the party, praised the opposition and had even campaigned against the party's candidates in the rural body elections held last year.
The 54-year-old lawmaker, who owns a large conglomerate with interests in mining, power and real estate, also said all allegations against him were false and baseless. "I vehemently deny the allegations against me," he said.
It was after the BJD's less-than-impressive performance in the Panchayat elections last year - the BJP emerged as the second largest party in rural Odisha at the ruling BJD's cost- that Mr Panda had started speaking out against the leadership.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had last month dismissed charges of opportunism raised by Mr Panda as "quite baseless".
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