Former BJD lawmaker 'Jay' Panda joins BJP

File photo of Jay Panda.   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

Former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Baijayant “Jay” Panda joined the BJP on Monday at the party’s headquarters here, in the presence of Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Jual Oram and BJP general secretary and Odisha in-charge Arun Singh.

Mr. Panda is likely to contest the Lok Sabha election, party sources said on condition of anonymity.

Just before joining the BJP, Mr. Panda tweeted: “Nine months of introspection and widespread consultations with colleagues and public. Grateful for support received from all over. On auspicious Mahashivratri I have decided to join the BJP and work under the leadership of Narendramodiji to serve Odisha and India to the best of my ability.”

At a press conference, Mr. Panda said “it is no secret that I have been an admirer of Prime Minister Modi”, adding that while the BJD-led government in Odisha was on a path to progress as an ally of the BJP, “governance has sharply declined, especially in the spheres of safety of women and combating corruption”.

“I believe governance can only improve in the State under the BJP, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has demonstrated that he can take tough decisions for the benefit of the country not just with regard to the economy but also in combating terror,” he said. Mr. Pradhan, who is from Odisha, said Mr. Panda’s entry would strengthen the party in the State. The BJP had identified Odisha as a “priority” State ahead of the polls. In the rural local body election in the State in 2017, the BJP had emerged as the second largest party, pushing the Congress to the third spot.

After the ceremony, Mr Panda met BJP president Amit Shah.

Mr. Panda, who represented the Kendrapara constituency in the Lok Sabha twice and owns an influential media group in the State, had also been a member of the Rajya Sabha. Suspended by the BJD in May for “anti-party” activities following persistent differences with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Mr. Panda quit his Lok Sabha seat. The BJD had accused Mr. Panda of money laundering, a charge denied by him.

Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha seats, and the BJD won 20 of them in 2014. The BJP won the Sundargarh seat, represented by Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram. The State is likely to have the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections simultaneously.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 8:49:30 AM |

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