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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Odisha: Divided loyalties jolt family of Congress veteran and former minister Suresh Kumar Routray

While the senior Routray, 80, who was elected to the state Assembly six times and served as a minister under J.B. Patnaik, has announced that he will not contest elections any more, his two sons have joined two different political parties

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 29.03.24, 06:37 AM
Suresh Kumar Routray, Siddhartha and Manmath.

Suresh Kumar Routray, Siddhartha and Manmath. Ashwinee Pati

The ensuing election is threatening to cause a serious rift in the family of Odisha's Congress veteran and former minister Suresh Kumar Routray at a time when dynastic politics has taken centre stage.

Divided loyalties are playing havoc in the family with its patriarch watching almost helplessly.

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While the senior Routray, 80, who was elected to the state Assembly six times and served as a minister under J.B. Patnaik, has announced that he will not contest elections any more, his two sons have joined two different political parties.

His elder son Siddhartha, who is back in Bhubaneswar after serving a corporate house for more than a decade in the US, has joined the Congress. The younger son Manmath, who was a pilot, has been fielded by the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) as its candidate for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency. Manmath joined the BJD on Wednesday.

The senior Routray, though blessed his son after his candidature was announced, has refused to campaign for him. "I cannot and will not," said Routaray.

Siddhartha, on the other hand, roundly criticised Manmath and dubbed him a "family breaker". He accused him of going against his father's principles only for the sake of power. “The prestige and goodwill that my father had earned during his sixty-year long political career has been destroyed by my younger brother. The lust for power has blinded him. He fails to realise that he is being used as a pawn by the BJD," said Siddhartha.

Suresh Routray, who was a follower of legendary leader Harekrushna Mahtab and the late Biju Patnaik, started his career in politics as a Janata Dal member. He joined the Congress in 1980 and came under the tutelage of former chief minister J.B. Patnaik. Elected to the state assembly six times he served as a minister in the J.B. Patnaik government in the 90s.

Hurt by his younger son's decision to join the BJD senior Routray resigned from all committees of the Congress of which he was a member. In his letter to the party leadership, he said, “My son joined the BJD against my wishes. It has hurt me. Therefore I am willing to tender my resignation from all the committees of the party."

In his message to his followers he said that even though he would pray for his son's victory he would not campaign for him, Suresh Routray said.

Sources said that his elder son Siddhartha, who joined the Congress recently, is likely to get the party ticket from the Nimapara Assembly constituency in Puri district. His father has assured that he would campaign for the elder son in the event of him getting a ticket.

The younger son, on the other hand, has sought the blessings of his father and averred that both his father and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who also happens to be the president of the BJD, have a common agenda — the development of Odisha to which he also is committed. "I, too, will work for this with full vigour," said Manmath. It remains to be seen how the two brothers will fare in the electoral arena.

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