The Rise & Fall From Grace Of Ex-Odisha Minister Pradeep Panigrahi

Bhubaneswar: Once a close aide of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Pradeep Panigrahi is now out of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD). What then led to the downfall of this former Higher Education minister? If party sources are to be believed, the Gopalpur had of late emerged as a disgruntled voice in the BJD and been expressing his displeasure over the goings-on in the government and the regional party.


His expulsion from the party on Sunday came close on the heels of the arrest of senior IFS officer Abhay Kant Pathak, whose son Akash was all set to marry Panigrahi’s daughter.

Panigrahi, a former student’s leader, shot into prominence after 2004 elections when BJD President Naveen Patnaik picked him to look after the affairs of his constituency Hinjili. He was given the party ticket from Gopalpur assembly constituency in Ganjam in 2009 and then made a minister after the 2014 elections. He was also appointed president of the BJD Ganjam district unit.

He had good access to his boss during this period, resulting in his growing importance in different circles. However, the first public sign that all was not well between the two came when Panigrahi shot off a letter to Naveen in May this year complaining about the state government ignoring local MLAs in the fight against COVID-19. This put the ruling dispensation in an embarrassing situation.

Going by party insiders, trouble started brewing for Panigrahi soon after the 2019 elections when he was blamed for the party’s defeat in two constituencies in Gajapati district and denied a cabinet berth.

Panigrahi was also removed from being in charge of Hinjili after being accused of threatening the people of the constituency by engaging anti-social elements.

The recent vigilance raid on Pathak, which unearthed disproportionate assets worth over Rs 9 crore, and his subsequent arrest along with his son Akash, who was accused of impersonating as a senior Tata executive and collecting money from people promising them jobs in the company, seemed to have sealed Panigrahi’s fate.

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