Lalatendu kin join BJP, party upbeat

Congress strongman late Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra's daughter Upasana and his brother, Lalitendu, today joined the BJP in the presence of Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

By Subhashish Mohanty in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 15.10.17
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Lalatendu's daughter Upasana, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP's state unit chief Basant Panda and legislature party leader KV Singh Deo in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Oct. 14: Congress strongman late Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra's daughter Upasana and his brother, Lalitendu, today joined the BJP in the presence of Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Lawyer Pitambar Acharya and former Youth Congress president Satyajeet Patnaik also joined the saffron party. Acharya dabbled in politics during his student days and was the president of BJB college students' union. When Lalatendu, also known as Lalu, was the president of the state Youth Congress at the peak of his popularity, Acharya was the general secretary of the organisation.

The BJP is hopeful of strengthening its base in the coastal belt of the state. The party considers Upasana to be its trump card in the Puri district, where her father had considerable influence.

Upasana accused the Congress of neglecting her father. "My father had made supreme sacrifices for the party, but the Congress failed to address his concerns. It's because of the Congress that my father died," she said.

Stating that switching loyalty to the BJP was one of the toughest decisions of her life, Upasana said: "Despite giving everything to the party, the Congress continued to neglect him. We discussed all these issues with the people of Brahmagiri, who are like our family members. With their consent, we joined the BJP."

Bolstered by Upasana's joining, the BJP today sharpened its attack on the BJD government. Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan took this opportunity to target chief minister Naveen Patnaik. "You (Naveen) cannot fool the people. The countdown has already begun," Pradhan said.

However, the Congress tried to downplay the event. "The BJP is a communal force. Had Lalatendu been alive, we would not have to see this day. His family members would not have dared to join the saffron party," said former Pradesh Congress Committee president Jaydev Jena.

Not only Upasana, a number of Congress leaders have already left the party as it has turned directionless following its failure in the last panchayat elections in February.

In April, Congress strongman from Dhenkanal Sudhir Samal had joined the BJD followed by spokesperson, Sulochana Das. She had joined the ruling party in June.

In September, former district Congress committee president of Koraput Narayan Patro joined the BJD. In October, Rita Sahu, the wife of the sitting MLA late Subhal Sahu joined the BJD followed by eight Congress councillors, including chairpersons and vice-chairperson of the Barpali notified area council in the Bijepur Assembly constituency.