Naveen expels Biju aide

BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday expelled former minister and long-term party leader Damodar Rout for indulging in "anti-party" activities.

By Subhashish Mohanty
  • Published 13.09.18
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Damodar Rout

Bhubaneswar: BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday expelled former minister and long-term party leader Damodar Rout for indulging in "anti-party" activities.

Rout, 76, was the party's senior-most leader.

Naveen had dropped him from his ministry on December 22 for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Brahmins. He was later removed from as BJD vice-president.

Reacting to his expulsion, Rout told The Telegraph: "For the past eight months, I had a feeling that I am not in the BJD. I was completely overlooked. The formal expulsion does not surprise me."

"I was the last torchbearer of Biju's legacy in the BJD, which can no more claim to be following the ideals of Biju babu. The BJD should now be called Naveen Janata Dal."

What prompted Naveen to sack Rout was the latter's uncomfortable questions on alleged scams and scandals against the government. His attacks had provided fodder to the Opposition both inside and outside the Assembly.

Though Naveen did not make any public statements against him, the ground for his expulsion had been laid with complaints mounting and party leaders and workers from Jagatsinghpur, his home district, reaching Naveen Nivas with a litany of complaints.

For the past two days, hundreds of BJD activists from the district had met Naveen and demanded Rout's ouster. They also submitted a petition to the Naveen accusing Rout of stoking factionalism and dissension in the party in Jagatsinghpur.

Though Rout, a seven-time MLA, made a last-ditch effort to mend fences with the chief minister by describing him as a good human being and an artist on Wednesday, the bid failed as he did not refrain from attacking government officials, including those in the Chief Minister's Office.

What made Rout earn Naveen's ire was his allegations that the BJD was being run by a select coterie, implying that the chief minister was losing his grip on the party. He had also launched a tirades against the BJD's Jagastsinghpur president Bishnu Das and Balikuda-Ersama MLA Prashant Muduli.

Though Rout had managed to ward off a challenge from bureaucrat-turned-politician Pyari Mohan Mohapatra when he was calling the shots in before 2012, this time his luck ran out with Naveen deciding that enough was enough.