By Subhransu Panda, Bhubaneswar:
Once Biju Patnaik was called as ‘The Buccaneer of India’ by the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru for the former’s adventurous achievements in favour of nation and democracy. There were many instances where Biju Patnaik stepped ahead in the time of need and traveled risked paths.
One can consider the current Odisha Law, Health, Family Welfare, Information and Public Relation minister Pratap Jena as the Buccaneer of his party Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
Though he did’t operate any adventurous mechanism except his own struggle to achieve a higher berth in his party, his most recent political moves followed by his elevation in state cabinet indicates his pivotal role strengthening the party to checkmate BJP’s aggressive politics.
It’s believed that Pratap Jena was the man behind sidelining Baijayant Panda and entertaining Soumya Ranjan Patnaik and Achyuta Samanata to join BJD. He is being engaged in taming the Odisha media in favour of BJD and trying to build CM Naveen Patnaik’s image through media. As a result he has become very close to Naveen Patnaik and being awarded with multiple departments in cabinet and autonomy within the party.
While Baijayant’s family owns a media house, both Soumya and Achyuta too have media houses.
It’s not less than any adventure to bite a mediaman. Infighting in BJD between Baijayant and Pratap might have affected the later’s political career with lose of media support. But he succeeded in almost throwing away Baijayant, his political opponent, from his party.
As Baijayant is cornered in BJD, it’s said that OTV, one of the leading channels in Odisha, may not support BJD anymore.
And it’s too believed that Pratap Jena, with his sharp vision, successfully acquired supports from major media houses in Odisha. Sources said, he is the man who made Soumya and Achyuta possible to join BJD. With their joining now BJD easily can avail support from Soumya’s Sambad daily and Kanak News channel and Achyuta’s Kalinga TV channel.
According to sources, Pratap Jena, now being the I and PR minister, is trying to get full support from another media house which owns a newspaper and TV channel.
However BJD MP Tathagat Satpathy, who owns leading daily Dharitri and at times can be vocal against his party, seems to be unhappy with his party’s media moves.
Subhransu Panda is an author and journalist. He can be reached at email@example.com and 9338655845.