Baijayant Jay Panda, who just resigned as Lok Sabha MP of the Biju Janata Dal or BJD earlier this week, today told NDTV his decision to quit the party and resign his parliamentary post came after the death of his father, Dr Bansidhar Panda, in May. "My decision to quit BJD was based on this last straw when neither the BJD party president nor anybody came to pay their last respects to a man, my father, who was not involved with my politics but had been a very close friend and associate of the late Biju Patnaik after which this party is named."
The BJD had suspended 55-year-old Mr Panda, a two-time lawmaker from Kendrapara, in January this year on 'disciplinary grounds'. In May, Mr Panda quit the party.
"There have been a lot of problems over the past three or four years and particularly for the last one year I had started speaking out in public after party president Naveen Patnaik himself asked in public for an introspection after we had a setback electorally in the panchayat elections but instead of being patted on the back for actually doing that, for having an introspection I was targetted, I was humiliated and I was physically assaulted. So it was both political and personal that it came to such a point that it was no longer tenable for me to continue in that party", he said.
Ahead of the Odisha state elections due next year, there has been speculation that Mr Panda would move to the BJP and that this in fact is what angered Naveen Patnaik. But Mr Panda denied he was 'flirting" with the BJP and claims he may quit politics altogether.
"I am considering all options - political and non-political. I am giving it a thought because this is not something I had anticipated or planned for", he told NDTV.
Asked if this was because the BJP wasn't keen to give him a key role in the state, Mr Panda replied, "This has absolutely nothing to do with it. Some people have started speculating in a similar fashion. Over the past 18 years, I have built friendships with all political parties. I have very close friends at all senior levels of political parties, they have been good to me in terms of giving me honest feedback, advice and an assessment of the political landscape I'm likely to face, beyond that I don't want to humour that kind of speculation. I'll only say that kind of speculation has nothing whatsoever to do with my analysis of the road forward."