Senior Congress leader and former MP Soumya Ranjan Patnaik was recently expelled from the party for ‘anti-party activities.’ Speculation was on the rife that the Congress top brass was contemplating disciplinary action against some senior leaders including Patnaik, who were openly challenging the state leadership and not co-operating in party activities.
Soumya Patnaik, who had launched Sankalpa Yatra on July 15 after his brother Niranjan’s seemingly unceremonious removal from the post of PCC president, had reportedly earned the wrath of the new Congress functionaries in the state. Ever since the appointment of Jayadev Jena as the PCC president in May this year, Soumya Patnaik, at various platforms, had been criticizing the manner in which the party was being run in Odisha.PCC president Jena soon constituted the disciplinary committee, which served Patnaik a show cause notice on August 12, and rest was the history.
Soumya Patnaik, who also happens to be the son-in-law of Assam Governor and former Chief Minister JB Patnaik and younger brother of former minister and PCC chief Niranjan Patnaik, said, “I don’t feel like using such language, but the expulsion that was announced through a press release is nonsense. It needs to be torn up.” He pointed out the recent remarks of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi regarding a controversial Ordinance Bill. But, Soumya Patnaik is not the ‘Prince’ of the grand old party!
In 1995, Soumya Patnaik made a brave debut in politics as he took on the legendary Biju Patnaik in the Bhubaneswar Assembly Constituency, but lost. In 1996, he was elected to the 11th Lok Sabha from Bhubaneswar. Since then, despite electoral failures, he has been an active public figure and has made tireless efforts for Odisha’s development through his various awareness programmes.
Soumya Patnaik, the Professor turned politician wears many hats. He has been passionately involved in civil society networking, institution building and numerous social activities. He is the head of Eastern Media Ltd, which publishes Odisha’s largest circulated daily ‘Sambad’, runs 24X7 News Channel ‘Kanak TV’ and a local FM ‘Radio Chocolate’. Besides, he owns ‘Manjari Movies’, an Odia movie producing house and Eastern Opera as well.
He also ventured in education sector by establishing an Engineering College — KMBB college of Engineering and Technology at Khurdha and a journalism and mass communication institution– SSOMAC (Sambad School of Media and Culture). More than anything else, his love and commitment for Odisha and Odias is reflected in various programmes under “Ama Odisha”.
It is no secret that Soumya Patnaik’s popularity and acceptability spread over the entire state as an intellectual and a social activist but that could not earn him success in the political field, though he has changed parties several times.
However, many political pundits believe that recent developments will not help the congress party in the state rather it will strengthen the ruling BJD. For congress, the party infighting is the one of the main reasons for failure in the successive elections since last 13 years. Once Union minister Jairam Ramesh mockingly, perhaps rightly, said, “The BJD is not winning but the Congress is losing in Odisha”. BJD will definitely garner the benefit in 2014 general election and many years to come, unless the main opposition party works unitedly and fights for the best interest of the party.