Who is Baijayant Panda?

first_imgBaijayant Panda or Jay Panda, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP from Kendrapara, has been openly critical of his party of late, making his stand clear through newspaper articles, tweets and statements. Faced with the spectacular success of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the panchayat elections in February and it emerging as the main Opposition to the BJD, Mr. Panda called for “introspection” in the party. Seen as an act of defiance, he was removed as spokesperson of the BJD Parliamentary Party in May. The BJD did win 474 of the 853 zilla parishad seats, but the rise in the BJP’s tally — from 36 to 297 — since the 2012 elections raised concerns in BJD circles. The BJP has been striving hard to emerge as the BJD’s alternative after it secured the second position in the panchayat polls overtaking the Congress. What has made things worse for Mr. Panda is a perception that he is acting at the behest of the BJP.What are his roots?Son of Odia industrialist Bansidhar Panda, who founded the IMFA, India’s largest, fully integrated producer of ferro alloys, Mr. Panda graduated from the Michigan Technological University and, with a background in engineering and management, worked in the corporate sector before joining politics.Although Mr. Panda’s father has stayed away from politics all these decades, his mother, the late Ila Panda, was a Rajya Sabha Member from 1992 to 1998. She represented the erstwhile Janata Dal, which Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s father and former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik led in Odisha those days.Why did he join politics?Mr. Panda joined active politics when the BJD was formed by Mr. Naveen Patnaik in December 1997, a few months after the demise of Biju Patnaik. He has had a long stint in Delhi and is well networked — he was Rajya Sabha member from 2000 to 2006 and was re-elected to the Upper House in 2006. But he chose to cut short his second term in the Rajya Sabha in 2009 and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kendrapara, considered a stronghold of Biju Patnaik as well as an anti-Congress bastion. He was elected to the Lok Sabha again in 2014 when Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. Apart from having a business empire, Mr. Panda’s family owns prominent Odia news television channel Odisha TV (OTV), adding to his strength as a politician. By writing articles in national newspapers and making use of social media, Mr. Panda was the BJD’s face in New Delhi.What are his ambitions?Mr. Panda and Mr. Patnaik shared a warm friendship for years, but the relationship appeared to have soured after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the Kendrapara MP grew close to the BJP top brass. Mr. Panda wanted to be made leader of the BJD Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha, but had to be content with the position of spokesperson along with party MP from Balangir Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo. Mr. Panda’s national profile, coupled with his appreciation of Mr. Modi’s policies in several of his articles, made Mr. Patnaik suspicious of him. He began to see Mr. Panda as a political threat. Mr. Panda’s criticism of the BJD’s functioning became louder after the panchayat elections, forcing Mr. Patnaik to remove him as the party’s spokesperson. The State government’s subsequent action against Mr. Panda’s family-run mining operations also indicated that their relationship was on the brink.What are his options?According to party sources, if Mr. Panda continues to remain in the BJD, Mr. Patnaik may deny him ticket to contest the 2019 Assembly elections. In that case, Mr. Panda will have no difficulty in getting BJP ticket for his own political survival.Although Mr. Panda has not openly challenged Mr. Patnaik so far, after eggs were hurled at him in his own constituency by BJD activists for his critical stand against the party, he alleged that intra-party conflict and goondaism had surfaced in the past three years, with bureaucrats sitting in air-conditioned rooms in the capital Bhubaneswar managing party affairs. He alleged that many key positions were no longer held by people who struggled for the party, “who might have given a honest feedback, but rather by opportunists from various fields, including some who had worked against the party.” With the BJP trying to grow in Odisha by highlighting ‘Brand Modi,’ the ‘dissident’ in Mr. Panda is likely to create trouble for Mr. Patnaik in the months to come. Will Mr. Panda survive in the BJD that long?last_img read more


Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ kickstarts Asian Games 2014 at Incheon

first_imgTo achieve international superstardom means you become virtually synonymous with your country. Over the course of the last couple of years, that’s exactly what has happened to South Korean pop artist Psy.His Gangnam Style single became the biggest rage on the internet in 2012, and on Friday, the 36-year-old was the headlining act of a glittering opening ceremony to the 17th Asian Games at Incheon.Sixty-thousand spectators were packed in the main stadium like sardines in a tin, eager to welcome elite athletes from across the biggest continent on the face of the earth. Doubts were raised earlier in the week about the slow pace of ticket sales for the ceremony, but as the appointed hour of 7pm arrived on Friday, there was barely a seat left empty. Since well before sunset, people had started trooping in.Security was tight but not an irritant and infants, youth and senior citizens alike stood patiently in lines to get past the gates. However, those hoping to post ‘selfies’ from inside the stadium were in for a shock as mobile phone signals seemed to be jammed.Korean pop stars and celebrities were an integral part of the ceremony, at which the Games were declared open by Park Geun-Hye, the president of South Korea.While Psy’s performance was undoubtedly the centrepiece of the evening, well-known South Korean actress Lee Young-Ae lit the Games cauldron. Usually, it is big-name athletes who are given this honour but the organisers gave the responsibility to Lee, given her popularity across Asia.advertisementThe theme for the ceremony was “One Asia”. Given the turmoil that affects the 4.5 billion inhabitants of the continent, it was an apt theme, choreographed in two parts, before the 45 participating nations’ athletes and officials entered the stadium.Indians know full well how the country’s relationship with the neighbouring Pakistan is often frosty, and similarly, North and South Korea are also poles apart. Yet, when the North Korean contingent entered the arena, there was loud cheering from the crowd.To be sure, sport acts as a balm. There is turmoil in Afghanistan and Syria, yet their athletes have turned up for the Asian Games in the hope there will be peace in Asia one day – as envisaged by Incheon.The size of the contingents entering the stadium had been kept limited and at the head of India’s shortened team was hockey captain Sardar Singh. Nattily dressed in grey trousers and a blue blazer, Sardar marched proudly ahead of women athletes in turquoise blue sarees, though a lot of wellknown names were missing from the parade.Sitting in the VIP area, Randhir Singh, secretary general of the Olympic Council of Asia, greeted the Indian contingent with a wave while his face was beamed on the giant LED screens around the stadium.When OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah greeted the crowd in Korean, there was a big round of applause. He then delivered his speech in English. “These are your Games, so let us unite and share the excitement and passion of the next 16 days,” he said.Close to 10pm local time, bright fireworks lit up the sky to signal the beginning of the fortnight-long sporting extravaganza.In the days ahead, Koreans and other Asians of various nationalities will witness plenty of success stories and heartbreaks. But on this night, Incheon well and truly laid out the red carpet for the rest of the continent.s.kannan@mailtoday.inlast_img read more


Ultimate TT league will help Indian players, says Basak

first_imgMumbai, Jun 8 (PTI) Arup Basak, the Indian coach of Maharashtra United, a team in next months inaugural Ultimate Table Tennis League, believes that the tournament will provide much-needed foreign exposure to the host countrys players. “Ultimate Table Tennis will bring top international players to India. The Indian players have been very impressive in the recently concluded World Championship. So now Indian players will get to explore more foreign talents and play against them. They will also get an opportunity to train under foreign coaches,” Basak told PTI in an interaction. The players draft for the UTT is scheduled tomorrow at the NSCI in Worli here and Basak says Maharashtra United are keen to get the “best possible” players on board. “We are discussing with the management and our international coach (Ferenc) Karsai. We have targeted some Indian and international players. But drafting can be challenging, so we are hoping to select best possible talent,” said Basak, a multiple former national mens singles champion. Asked how will his experience help in guiding the players, Basak said, “The players participating in the league know me very well and even I have seen all of them playing in the national and international tournaments, so we already understand each other. “This time the players will be trained under the combination of the national and international coach which will help them rigorously”. Tournaments like the Indian Premier League and Indian Super League have helped cricketers and footballers respectively in the country and asked whether the UTT will do the same to table tennis, Basak said, “I believe that UTT will prove to be one of the best platforms for the Indian players to show how good they are in the sport.”advertisement”UTT will also help in educating the audience about the sport. Viewers will know how exciting and thrilling a table tennis game can be,” said Basak.According to him, the foreign players will help the Indian players learn new techniques, analyse moves and discuss the same with their foreign coach.Maharashtra United have got Ferenc Karsai (Hungary) who has been the men?s national coach for three countries – Austria, Canada and Belgium – and Basak as the coaches.Meanwhile, Karsai said UTT will be a great boost for the sport and its talent.”India has immense potential and I believe that UTT will give the platform to them to showcase that. Besides the international talent will also get to see how good Indian players are,” the Hungarian remarked. PTI NRB SSR DK DK BASlast_img read more


New NSR Transit Record for Christophe de Margerie

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: President of Russia/CC 4.0 license Christophe de Margerie, the icebreaking LNG carrier owned and operated by Russian shipping company Sovcomflot (SCF Group), has crossed the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in a new record time.The vessel covered the distance of 2,360 nautical miles eastward, from the port of Sabetta (Yamal Peninsula) to Cape Dezhnev (the Bering Strait), in just seven days and 17 hours during the month of July. The vessel navigated independently without any icebreaker support, sailing at an average speed of 12.8 knots.The LNG carrier was transporting a cargo of liquefied natural gas from the Yamal LNG plant at Sabetta to the port of Tangshan, China, where it arrived on July 31.The completed voyage also represents the beginning of regular shipments of LNG along the NSR from Russia’s Arctic gas fields to the countries of Asia Pacific.“This remarkable, safe passage across the NSR has required the crew’s utmost attention and concentration. Ice conditions along the route were severe, especially in the East Siberian Sea, and the vessel experienced navigation in extended periods of limited visibility. The navigational and hydrographic situation within Arctic regions remains as challenging as ever,” Igor Tonkovidov, Executive Vice President and COO/CTO of SCF Group, said.“The crew of Christophe de Margerie was able to maintain a rapid yet safe speed for the tanker through effective organisation of bridge watch-keeping, highly skilled navigation, slowing the ship when approaching challenging ice fields and passing them at a safe speed, and moving reasonably quicker in areas of reduced ice cover.”The 172,600 cbm Christophe de Margerie is the first in a series of 15 icebreaking LNG carriers ordered for the Yamal LNG, to transport LNG year-round in the challenging ice conditions of the Kara Sea and Gulf of Ob.The vessel can sail independently through ice of up to 2.1 metres thick. Its propulsion system has a power capacity of 45 MW, which is comparable to that of a nuclear-powered icebreaker.The icebreaking LNG carrier can sail unassisted along the NSR westward from Yamal all year-round, and eastward for six months of the year (from July to December).The ships is membered by all-Russian crew numbers 29, including 13 officers, each with significant Arctic shipping experience, according to SCF.last_img read more