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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Lok Sabha elections 2024: BJP welcomes BJD turncoats

All of them had fallen from grace after being accused of alleged anti-party activities or losing their popularity, sources said

Subhashish Mohanty Bhubaneswar Published 03.03.24, 06:45 AM
Representational image

Representational image File image

This is the season of turncoats. Leaders unsure of getting the tickets of their respective parties are switching their loyalties with the least regard for
ideology.

At least three prominent BJD leaders, including two former ministers, have joined the BJP, the principal rival of the BJD in the state in the past 10 days. Another former minister and five-time MLA Arabinda Dhali, quit the BJD on Saturday. “I will go to the BJP where I started my career,” Dhali said.

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All of them had fallen from grace after being accused of alleged anti-party activities or losing their popularity, sources said.

The most curious case among these is that of former minister Debasis Nayak, once a trusted lieutenant of chief minister Naveen Patnaik and served him as an officer on special duty when Naveen was a minister in the Vajpayee government. A four-time MLA Nayak started feeling sidelined in the BJD after first being dropped from the ministry and then being denied a ticket from Bari in 2019, which has sent him four times in a row to the state Assembly.

“I was loyal to Naveen but he could not keep me with him,” said Nayak as he joined the BJP convinced that Naveen’s party wouldn’t oblige him with a party ticket again.

Former minister and sitting MLA from Gopalpur Pradeep Kumar Panigrahy has also joined the BJP.
The BJD expelled Panigrahy in November 2020 for anti-party activities. He was also arrested by the Crime Branch for alleged involvement in a job scam.

Besides these leaders, the sitting MLA from Chilika Assembly constituency Prasanta Kumar Jagadev, who had been expelled from the BJD after a case was slapped against him for allegedly attacking a BJP Dalit leader in 2021, has also come to the saffron fold. He was arrested in March 2022 for allegedly ploughing his SUV into a crowd of mostly BJP supporters.

Prasanta said: “When we are not able to meet our leader Naveen Babu, what’s the point of remaining in the party.”

The BJP seems to be welcoming these turncoats apparently in the hope that this would boost the prospects of the party in the coming elections.

Given the acute shortage of recognisable public faces in the BJP, the party thinks that the entry of Nayak, Dhali, Panigrahy and Jagadev would help improve its prospects. However, this could also prove counterproductive.

“As most of the new entrants are discredited leaders who are in search of safe harbours ahead of the election, it won’t affect the BJD much,” said a senior BJD leader.

“The BJD won’t be affected at all,” said BJD MLA Rajkishore Das.

While the BJD leadership has criticised the BJP for welcoming leaders like Jagdev who bashed up a BJP Dalit leader, the ruling party has also been organising “Mishran Parava” to welcome leaders from other parties.

Congress, too, claims that leaders disillusioned with the BJD and the BJP are entering its fold.

“The BJD and BJP are hand-in-glove. Many leaders of these parties are fed up with both the Naveen and Modi governments at the Centre. They want an alternative. Many people are in touch with the Congress,” said Congress leader Manoranjan Dash.

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