BJD MP Slaps Party Worker at Public Event, Calls it 'Friendly Gesture' After Backlash
The Berhampur MP, who was with the Congress till April last year and also served as a central minister in the UPA-I government, was caught on camera slapping a former Youth Congress president of Gajapati district.
Bhubaneswar: Chandra Shekhar Sahu, an MP of Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) sparked a row after he slapped a former Congress worker Sangram Keshari Sahu who was at a public event,along with hundreds of Congress and BJP workers, to join the BJD.
Berhampur MP Sahu, who was with the Congress till April 2018 and also served as a central minister in the UPA-I government, was caught on camera tightly slapping Sangram, a former Youth Congress president of Gajapati district, when he was being inducted into the BJD at a ceremony in Paralakhemundi on Tuesday.
The incident, which took place in full public view, has sent ripples across the political circles in Odisha. However, when the video clip of the slapping act went viral on social media, BJD MP as well as Sangram downplayed the incident and called it a “friendly gesture”.
Sahu said he had only raised his hand to slap Sangram who was like his younger brother. The 69-year-old MP said he was angry to see an act of indiscipline displayed by Sangram and “only wanted to teach him discipline”.
Nearly 1,000 leaders and workers from Odisha’s Opposition parties, Congress and BJP, joined the ruling BJD at party’s extended executive committee meeting held at Paralakhemundi, the MP said.
“The man was a Youth Congress worker. When our (BJD) observer Purna Swain put an angavastram bearing the (BJD) party symbol on his shoulders, he brushed it off. His intention was not bad, but it was an insult to Swain. So I told him of discipline and also told him that I should give him a slap,” said the MP, who had quit the Congress to join the BJD in April 2018.
Sahu, who represents Berhampur constituency, claimed that Sangram immediately tendered an apology to Swain, the BJD MLA from Sorada who was present on stage as the party’s observer for Gajapati district.
Despite the video clips showing Sangram being slapped, he denied the incident. “I know him for the past 20 years and have family relations with him. He did not slap me. There was confusion as I had wanted the MP himself to put the angavastram on my shoulders. I did not know who the observer was,” he said.
“Since I quit the Congress to join the BJD, my detractors are claiming that I was slapped by the MP. This is not true,” Sangram clarified.
Senior Congress leader Ganeshwar Behera said: “If the MP considers him (Sangram) his younger brother, he could have slapped him in private. Slapping a man in full public view is fully illegal, and the MP should publicly apologise for his action. Nobody has a right to physically assault anyone”.
“A former Union Minister & a sitting Parliamentarian slaps a fan in full public view. Hasn't he brought disgrace to #Odisha with such outrageous and shameful conduct? Hope everyone is watching! @PMOIndia @CMO_Odisha @narendramodi @ombirlakota @narendramodi (sic),” tweeted BJP general secretary Bhrugu Baxipatra, who had contested against Chandra Shekhar Sahu and lost in the April-May general elections.
Even the BJD leaders felt outraged by Sahu’s act. “All political leaders should maintain public decency and behave appropriately. The party supremo (CM Naveen Patnaik) will take a decision on the incident," said senior BJD leader Sanjay Das Burma.
“I do not know what has exactly happened, but if such a thing has actually taken place, it is not good,” said Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo, another senior BJD leader.
Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said: “If the MP has slapped the person in a fit of anger, it is certainly a very unfortunate incident”.
(With inputs from Kailash Behera, Ajesh Mallick and Sumanta Sundaray)