After Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Baijayant Panda joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), another former BJD veteran Damodar Rout is likely to join the saffron party soon. Utkal Bharat president Kharabela Swain is also set to join the BJP, if BJP sources are to be believed. The two leaders had gone to Delhi to discuss their political plan, a source said. Rout, a seven-time MLA and former minister in the Naveen Patnaik’s Cabinet, said he would not have a problem joining any party which will work for Odisha’s development.
What was, however, seen as a hint of his intention to join the BJP, Rout said, “Why can’t lotus bloom in saline water?” In the outgoing assembly, Rout represented Paradip off Bay of Bengal where water is saline, reported ToI.
Panda, a former BJD MP from Odisha’s Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat, joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Panda, one of the prominent Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leaders, had quit the party in May 2018 following a long-standing rift with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who is also the chief of the BJD. In a three-page letter written to Patnaik, who is also the chief of BJD, Panda had said, “It’s with deep anguish, hurt and sorrow that I have decided to quit the politics into which our BJD has descended.”
Panda’s decision to quit the party had come days after the party suspended his primary membership on accusations of “conflict of interest” and “anti-party activities” aimed at weakening BJD in Odisha. Panda’s father Bansidhar Panda shared a very close relationship with former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik, the father of current Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik.