Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 4:
Senior BJP leader and Nuapada MLA Basant Panda was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader, Union minister for Environment and Forest Prakash Javadekar, who had come to Odisha to oversee the election, revealed here this afternoon.
However, the absence of former Union Minister and party MLA Dillip Ray during the meeting of party MLAs to decide their leader has set tongues wagging even though Javadekar clarified that Ray had informed him that he would not be able to attend the meeting due to certain engagements. Ray was tipped as one of the contenders for the post.
“Out of 10 MLAs, nine attended the meeting and they unanimously chose Basant Panda as their leader. When I asked if is there was any second name, no one proposed any name except Panda,” said Javadekar at a press conference after the meeting.
The Union Minister also said that the party workers will work hard in the coming days to grab power in the 2019 elections in Odisha. “Although we have got 10 MLAs and one MP this time from Odisha, the vote tally has increased 100% in 2014 elections. We have got 46 lakh votes and it would be 75 lakh in 2019 leaving behind the ruling BJD,” said the senior BJP leader.
The newly elected BJPLP leader said the party would forcefully raise a host of issues, including the chit fund and mining scam, distress sale of paddy and large scale migration in the Assembly.
“We will oppose the government if it take any anti-people measures while supporting it if it takes people friendly steps,” Panda said.
Panda downplayed the absence of Ray saying that the central observer had already made it clear that the Rourkela MLA had talked to him and explained the reason for his absence while pledging his support to the decision taken by the party MLAs.