In a bid to put up a tough challenge to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the BJP in Orissa Sunday admitted former BJD MP from Kandhamal Rudramadhab Ray to the party fold ahead of the bypoll to the Kandhamal parliamentary seat next month.
Ray joined the party in the presence of state BJP president K V Singhdeo, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, party in-charge for Orissa Arun Singh and several other senior leaders of the saffron party.
Ray, 76, BJD MP from Kandhamal between 2009 and 2014, was denied party ticket in this year’s election and was later suspended after he campaigned against party candidates.
The BJP has some support in at least three Assembly constituencies of Kandhamal parliamentary seat. The bypoll in Kandhamal was necessitated after the demise of BJD MP Hemendra Singh on September 5 in Bhubaneswar. Kandhamal would go to polls on October 15.
BJP sources said Ray would be a formidable candidate as he has a good support in Daspalla Assembly constituency of the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat. Senior BJP leader Bijoy Mohapatra would head the party’s campaign committee for the bypoll.
The BJD is expected to nominate Rajeshwari Singh, the wife of Hemendra Singh, as party candidate to cash in on the sympathy wave.
The Congress is yet to declare anyone’s name.