Until lower than a 12 months earlier than Pradeep Panigrahy’s expulsion from the occasion on Sunday and his arrest quickly after, the Biju Janata Dal legislator was thought-about the primary amongst equals within the 23-year-old regional occasion and one of many only a few with direct entry to chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
That Patnaik immensely trusted the 56-year-old Panigrahy turned clear again in 2004 when the chief minister named him to supervise his meeting constituency Hinjili in Ganjam district for almost a decade. Panigrahy delivered and was rewarded with a celebration ticket in 2009 from the seaside Gopalpur constituency from the place he has received on a trot thrice.
The dream run ended this week when Panigrahy was arrested by cops investigating Indian Forest Service officer Abhay Pathak and his son Akash Pathak, who have been arrested final week on costs of holding disproportionate belongings. The Pathak household had come to the discover of investigators for flying out and in of Odisha in chartered planes on not less than 20 events throughout the Covid lockdown. The MLA, who additionally travelled with them on many events, faces costs of dishonest, forgery and impersonation. Earlier than he was arrested, Panigrahy insisted that he was harmless however the police don’t imagine him.
There was a time when this may have been unthinkable. Ramesh Chandra Chyaupatnaik, president of BJD in Ganjam district, remembers the affect that Panigrahy wielded. “Whereas we would have liked an appointment to fulfill the CM, Panigrahy didn’t as a result of the CM was keen on him. He had earned the CM’s belief,” mentioned. Forward of the 2019 meeting elections, Panigrahy was given cost of 12 of the 15 meeting constituencies of the undivided Ganjam district.
In contrast to many politicians of Odisha who labored their manner up, BJD leaders mentioned Panigrahy, who had been president of the Berhampur College College students’ Union in 1994, had it simple. He had a really humble starting as an advocate within the native courts, nevertheless it was the ambition that set him aside from fellow legal professionals.
When the Tatas got here to Ganjam to construct a 10 million tonne port-based metal plant in Gopalpur in affiliation with Nippon Metal of Japan, Panigrahy was among the many first to promote his land for the undertaking that others from the realm have been opposing. It helped the JB Patnaik authorities tide over the general public agitation and was adopted by the federal government buying round three,000 acres of the land below the emergency clause of Land Acquisition Act in 1997-98. The proposed metal plant, nonetheless, by no means took off and Tatas, just a few years in the past, turned it into SEZ.
Former Chhatrapur MLA N Narayan Reddy, who performed an important position within the public agitation towards the Tatas, mentioned Panigrahy appeared to parachute to energy. “Any grassroots politician would have supported the general public agitation towards a company. However Panigrahy didn’t assist… Santosh Satpathy, then district collector of Ganjam had launched Panigrahy to JB Patnaik as he had expressed solidarity for Tata’s land acquisition,” mentioned Reddy.
After Naveen Patnaik turned chief minister for the primary time in 2000, Panigrahy was made president of Berhampur central cooperative financial institution. Just a few years later, he turned the chief minister’s nominee to nurture the Hinjili meeting constituency which fuelled his rise within the occasion.
Amongst all of the BJD politicians of Ganjam, he was the youngest at the moment and educated too. By most accounts, he quickly turned the chief minister’s favorite too. Regardless of his faltering English, it was his can-do skill that in all probability endeared him to the anglophile chief minister. His inventory additionally went up when in 2003 he obtained Ph.D in legislation from Berhampur College on “Conservation of Biodiversity below Worldwide Regulation with particular reference to Regulation in India”.
In 2006, his title cropped up in a hooch tragedy of Ganjam involving the demise of 40 individuals, however a fee of inquiry cleared him of any position 2 years later. In 2009, he received the BJD ticket for the primary time from Gopalpur.
He received. However the victory, Pradeep Panigrahy’s rivals and occasion colleagues mentioned, appeared to vary him. It was the vanity of energy, mentioned Ganjam BJD leaders. There have been additionally allegations that have been levelled at him.
President of BJP’s Ganjam district unit, Bibhuti Jena, who misplaced to him within the 2019 meeting election, mentioned Panigrahy had all the time been impolite to individuals. “He used official equipment to browbeat his opponents in addition to frequent individuals. The BJD too turned a blind eye to his actions,” mentioned Jena.
As per Panigrahy’s personal admission early this week, Patnaik advised him to not hassle about his Hinjili constituency in 2013 that BJD leaders mentioned would ordinarily have implied a lack of belief. However, in 2014, Patnaik made him minister of three departments together with the agricultural growth, larger training and science and know-how. He was dropped from the cupboard in 2017 however was nonetheless seen to be highly effective. He was made BJD’s Ganjam district president in 2015 regardless of the district having three senior cupboard ministers. In 2019, he was made liable for 15 meeting constituencies of undivided Ganjam district in recognition of his organisational expertise.
His troubles began quickly after when he was blamed for the occasion’s defeat in three of the 15 constituencies. He retained his personal seat Gopalpur by a slim margin of two,600 votes, the bottom margin in Ganjam district. There have been allegations that he had sabotaged the BJD’s prospects in these constituencies. BJD leaders mentioned they observed that his entry to the chief minister ended quickly after. His rivals throughout the occasion had claimed he was in talks with BJP for a potential swap.
Political analyst Rabi Das mentioned Panigrahy was maybe the final BJD politician who loved unfettered entry to the chief minister who had come to rely upon his workforce of trusted bureaucrats. “He was among the many senior BJD MLAs whom the coterie wished to be minimize all the way down to dimension. Within the BJD’s churn, Panigrahy was up towards a robust part,” mentioned Das.
That he was out of favour turned evident when he wrote a number of letters to the chief minister, to demand that Odisha convey again migrant employees from Gujarat throughout Covid lockdown after which to complain that the state authorities was ignoring native MLAs within the struggle towards Covid-19.
“I raised the problems of mismanagement in Covid centres in addition to the therapy procedures of Covid sufferers. This in all probability didn’t go down nicely with some bureaucrats,” Panigrahy mentioned days earlier than his arrest. Now in jail over costs of forgery, the 56-year-old politician might should fall again on his authorized acumen to see him by the troubled days.