Congress Legislature Party secretary Anup Sai follows suit

In a major development ahead of the forthcoming general elections, Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Bhupinder Singh along with Congress Legislature Party secretary Anup Sai joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal on Saturday.

Mr. Singh and Mr. Sai announced their quitting the Congress and joining the BJD after meeting Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik at the latter’s residence here.

Mr. Patnaik told presspersons in the presence of the two leaders that their joining will be a tremendous help to the BJD. “We will all work together for the benefit of Odisha,” he added.

Mr. Singh said that he had already sent his resignation to the Congress leadership since he was not happy over the manner in which some Congress leaders were handling party affairs.

The Chief Minister had also assured help for the development of the Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput region, Mr. Singh said.

Speculation was rife last week about Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh quitting the Congress and joining the BJD after Mr. Singh was not invited to attend a party meeting in New Delhi.

Mr. Singh, who had remained incommunicado for several days and underwent treatment in a hospital in Cuttack, had later told presspersons that he had not resigned from Congress. But the dramatic development took place when he along with Mr. Sai went and met Mr. Patnaik at his residence on Saturday.

The Congress received the latest jolt following resignation of several other leaders, namely Rabindra Jena, Umesh Swain, Hemendra Singh, Ramakrushna Patnaik, Kumudini Patnaik and Shibasankar Ulaka during the past few weeks.

Though the Congress had been able to bring into its fold two veteran Odia film actors — Aparajita Mohanty and Bijay Mohanty — recently, it had lost more senior leaders thereby weakening the party’s organisational strength ahead of the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State.

Even though the BJD was ahead of other parties with regard to organisational strength, Mr. Patnaik was not leaving any stone unturned to further add to the party strength.

Mr. Patnaik had on Friday announced that his party will enter into seat sharing arrangement with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha in tribal dominated Mayurbhanj and Sundargarh districts.

According to political observers, the joining of Mr. Singh and Mr. Sai was likely to strengthen BJD’s base in western Odisha region where opposition Congress had performed well in the 2009 polls.

While Mr. Singh represented Narla Assembly segment in Kalahandi district, Mr. Sai represented Brajarajnagar in Jharsuguda district.