Odisha: Is Ashok Panigrahi On The Verge Of Quitting BJP

10 October 2019

Debashish Maharana

Bhubaneswar: After the BJP named Sanat Gartia as its candidate for the bypoll to the Bijepur Assembly seat in Odisha's Bargarh district, slated to be held on October 21, senior party leader Ashok Panigrahi, has accused the BJP of sidelining him.

Panigrahi, who had defected from the BJD in 2018 and lost the Bijepur bypoll that year to Rita Sahu of Odisha's ruling party, alleged on Monday he is not being informed about or involved in party activities in the Assembly segment.

Gartia had lost to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the bypoll to the seat this year. He got 53,482 votes (28.91 per cent) against Patnaik, who got 1,10,604 votes (59.78 per cent).

"The party is certainly ignoring me as they have not allotted any specific charge to me. I will take a call after having a discussion with my supporters," said Panigrahi.

Panigrahi added, "I would decide after consulting my supporters, who had suggested me to quit BJD and join the saffron party in 2018."

Earlier, another senior BJP leader, Damodar Rout, had made similar allegations against the party, saying he was not being involved in programmes after he lost the elections.

Dismissing the allegations, senior BJP Leader Pradip Nayak said that Panigrahi has not been attending the party meetings. "He expects an invitation from Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan for party meetings, which is not possible. He should take ownership and lead the campaign."

The Bijepur bypoll was necessitated after Naveen Patnaik vacated the assembly constituency. In 2019 elections, Patnaik successfully contested from both Hinjili and Bijepur. The bypoll to Bijepur Assembly constituency will be held on October 21. The counting of votes will be held on October 24.

Ashok Panigrahi, Senior BJP leader, Odisha

Pradip Nayak, Leader of Opposition, Odisha