Ahead of elections, former BJD MP Baijayant Panda joins BJP
Baijayant Jay Panda, who quit Biju Janata Dal (BJD) last year, joined Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday. Panda won Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 and represented it, before leaving BJD. His bitter relationship with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik led to his suspension from BJD. He later handed over his resignation in Lok Sabha as well. Here's more on this.
Announcing the decision on Twitter, Panda wrote he consulted colleagues and the general public for nine months. Panda said he will work under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to serve Odisha and India to best of his ability. 55-year-old Panda has been a parliamentarian since 2000 and is one of the most popular leaders in Odisha. His decision will surely dampen BJD's prospects.
Nine months of introspection widespread consultations w/colleagues public.— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) March 4, 2019
Grateful for support recd from all over.
On auspicious #MahaShivratri I've decided to join @BJP4India work under the leadership of @narendramodi Ji to serve Odisha India to the best of my ability🙏
An articulate and well-networked leader, Panda's problems in BJD started after he questioned the poor performance in 2017 local polls. BJP became the second largest party and while assessing the defeat, Panda claimed BJD was run by "opportunists". Notably, after PM Modi came to power, Panda regularly praised him on many platforms and questioned the way his party boss functioned. Subsequently, he was suspended.
Quite obviously, Panda's exit from BJD was equally bloody. In his three page resignation, he said he was humiliated numerous times in the last four years. However, Patnaik missing the last rites of his father Bansidhar Panda served as the last straw, said Panda. Panda reminded he was one of the pallbearers at BJD founder Biju Patnaik's funeral. He called the CM's behavior "inhumane".
"I have been bereaved in ways more than one. My faith that I was assisting you in a party that was decent and committed to certain principles have also died," Panda wrote in his letter to Patnaik.
Meanwhile, speculations that Panda would join BJP have been doing rounds for quite some time now. But BJD downplayed it saying it won't affect polls. BJD MP Prasanna Acharya said, "In the past several people have left BJD. But the regional party has become more and more popular." Quite clearly, Odisha will witness a straight battle between Panda and Patnaik in the upcoming elections.