Rift In BJD Seen To Widen As Jay Panda's Family Firm Goes To Court Against Odisha Government

A company owned by Jay Panda's family has moved the High Court against the Patnaik government's decision to cancel their mining rights.

BJD MP Jay Panda said he has never allowed politics to mix with business.

Bhubaneswar: Biju Janata Dal lawmaker Baijayant Panda, better known as Jay Panda, seems on collision course with his one-time mentor and party chief Naveen Patnaik, who is also Odisha Chief Minister. 

In what is being seen as an escalation of political hostilities, Indian Metals and Ferrous Alloys (IMFA), a company owned by Mr Panda's family, has moved the High Court against the Patnaik government's decision to cancel their mining rights now. 

The State Pollution Board of Odisha had last month revoked consent to operate or mine at their chromite mine in Jajpur district. The order alleged that the pollution board's team, while inspecting the mine in March, found deficiencies like "inadequate water sprinkling to control dust, poor ambient air quality, potholed roads" among others.

Mr Panda maintains that he has never allowed his politics to mix with his family business. 

"I have no comment on this topic. I have never mixed my politics with my family's business interests," he told NDTV in a statement and added, "IMFA is one of Odisha's oldest and most respected companies, also one of the state's largest employers and will make its own defence regarding the allegations of potholes, etc."

The pollution board's decision to cancel the company's mining rights on April 10, came just days after Mr Panda questioned his party's poor showing in local body elections in Odisha, in which the BJP placed an impressive second.

The 53-year-old lawmaker was accused by a party colleague Tathagat Satapathy of possibly working on behalf of the BJP to engineer a split in the BJD which has ruled Odisha for the last 17 years. Earlier this month, Mr Panda was removed as BJD spokesperson. 

Jay Panda has repeatedly denied that he is moving closer to the BJP, whose chief Amit Shah has announced his party's intent to win Odisha in 2019, when assembly elections in the state will be held along with the national election.

The Biju Janata Dal has rejected allegations that the action against the company is a fallout of Mr Panda's deteriorating relationship with the Chief Minister. 

"If a company has to follow norms, it has to. Why brings politics into it?," asked a senior lawmaker of the Biju Janata Dal, who didn't wish to be named. 
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