Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections and in a major boost to the BJP in Odisha, former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda on Monday joined the saffron party in the presence of Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Panda met BJP chief Amit Shah and joined the party in New Delhi.
Taking to Twitter, Panda said, “Nine months of introspection and widespread consultations with colleagues and public. Grateful for support received from all over. On the auspicious Maha Shivratri, I’ve decided to join BJP and work under the leadership of Narendra Modi to serve Odisha and India to the best of my ability.”
Explained: What Jay Panda brings to BJP in Odisha
Nine months of introspection & widespread consultations w/colleagues & public.
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??
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) March 4, 2019
Panda had recently said that he is willing to join hands with anybody “committed to tackling the severe problems that Odisha now faces”.
In a three-page letter to Patnaik, Panda said the CM’s absence at the last rites of his father, Bansidhar Panda, was “the last straw” among “many humiliations over the past four years”. Panda’s father was a well-known industrialist with close ties to Naveen’s father, former chief minister Biju Patnaik.
Panda also claimed that several BJD leaders conveyed to him privately that they were prevented from paying their respects to Bansidhar Panda, 87, who passed away on May 22 in Bhubaneswar. Panda’s letter reminded Naveen Patnaik that Panda was one of the pallbearers during Biju Patnaik’s funeral. “That the BJD does not want me anymore, and in fact wants me out, is now irrefutable clear.”
He also added that he had stood behind Patnaik through “thick and thin” including when the parliamentary party had split in 2002. “It is ironic that many of the worst critics of you during our party’s first dozen years are now holding key positions in the party, while most of those who struggled with you to overcome them have been discarded,” he wrote.
Panda was earlier suspended from BJD’s primary membership on charges of “anti-party activities.” He was also dropped as the party’s parliamentary spokesperson, months after he called for introspection in the BJD following its poor performance in panchayat polls. However, this was not the first time that he was critical about the party’s politics. Often alleging that the party had been taken over by opportunists, Panda, in an article in Odia daily Samaj last year, wrote that the BJD regime had started looking like the “discredited” Congress regime of the 1980s and late 1990s. He had also alleged that founding members of the BJD had lost their access to the CM.