By Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI/BHUBANESWAR: Former Union Minister Braja Tripathy while addressing a press meet in New Delhi on Tuesday, alleged that outlawed Maoists’ leader Sabyasachi Panda received Rs 45 lakh from BJD Bank account.
Panda is key accused in the attack on the Nayagarh armoury — in which 14 policemen were killed in 2008. Panda was arrested in July 17, 2014 at Berhampur in southern district of Ganjam. Besides the twin cases at Nayagarh, 50 more cases are pending against Panda.
Panda has been implicated in the 2008 murder of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati and four of his followers in Kandhamal district.
Panda is a son of a freedom fighter and three-time CPI(M) MLA from Ranpur, Ramesh Panda. He is a graduate in mathematics from Puri’s Samant Chandra Shekhar government college. He is married to Subhashree or Mili Panda from Nimapara.
The rift between the CPI (Maoist) and Panda widened because of his dictatorial and corrupt ways of functioning. The outcome of Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati’s assassination in Kandhamal District in August 2008 caught the attention of the central leadership. The arbitrary action, without proper authorisation from the Maoist central leadership, did put Panda in their bad books.
The fallout between Panda and the CPI (Maoist) came in March 2012 when Panda, again acting on his own, took two Italian tourists hostage. Then, he declared a ceasefire with the Odisha government. To embarrass him, the Maoists’ from Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zone Committee (AOBSZC) abducted BJD MLA, Jhinna Hikaka, around the same time. From then on, it has been an open season between Panda and the Maoist leadership.
Later on, he went on to be most vocal about the central leadership, and their alleged ‘deviations ’- ideological, tactical, and cultural; including allegations of an increasing inclination to despotic command, regional bias, ‘cultural hegemony’, intolerance of dissent, and sexual improprieties of the CPI (Maoist). The CPI (Maoist) retaliated with an expulsion order on 10 August 2012, calling him a renegade.
After the expulsion from the CPI (Maoist), Panda formed his new outfit Odisha Maobadi Party (OMP). In the meantime, the CPI (Maoist) reportedly formed a new unit, the Chhattisgarh-Odisha Border Committee (COBC), to strengthen their operations across the border areas of the two States, and specifically to counter Panda’s new outfit. Due to sustained anti-Maoist operations, Panda seems to have been cornered, and much of his clout has been dissipated.
Meanwhile, more than 1500 CMAS activists had surrendered since January 2013, giving a clear signal that the activists are not going to support the Maoists in the future. In addition, the parting ways of Panda too has further weakened the CPI (Maoist) in Odisha; though Panda is not in a win-win situation either. Reports of the Maoists managing to form a Red corridor, which will give them easy movement and safe passage through three states – Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Jharkhand, is worrisome.