Baijayant Panda quits BJD: BJP, Congress appear keen to take industrialist-turned-politician into fold
A day after Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda resigned from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) headed by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, two national parties — the Congress and the BJP — said their doors are open for him.
Bhubaneswar: A day after Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda resigned from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) headed by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, two national parties — the Congress and the BJP — said their doors are open for him on Tuesday.
Amid speculation that Panda may join the BJP, Union tribal affairs minister Jual Oram said, "Panda is a good human being, a good politician and a leader. Unfortunately, the BJD could not recognise Panda's qualities. If he joins the BJP, it will be good for our party."
Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had on Monday said any good person who reposed faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, may join the BJP.
Shortly after Panda announced his resignation from the BJD following a year-long acrimonious relationship with the chief minister, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) was understood to have held a strategic meeting at the state party headquarters in Bhubaneswar, sources said.
OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik and other senior leaders deliberated on political situation in the rival BJD after Panda's resignation.
"Both Congress and BJP are more than interested in inducting Panda as he will be a major tool to grind Patnaik. Panda and Patnaik were close for decades and, therefore, the industrialist-turned-politician became MP four times, twice each in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha," said a senior Congress leader.
Panda was elected to the Rajya Sabha twice between 2000 to 2009 and later to Lok Sabha from Kendrapara in 2009 and 2014.
Panda's family owns Odisha TV, the state's most popular and widely-viewed television channel.
The political party which Panda joins, will certainly look to derive immense benefit from the state's number one news channel, the Congress leader pointed out.
Earlier in 2018, Patnaik inducted JB Patnaik's son-in-law Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, who heads the state's widely circulated Odia daily as well as the Kanak News channel, into the BJD.
He has also inducted education entrepreneur Achyuta Samanta, who runs Asia's biggest tribal school and also owns the Kalinga TV channel.
Naveen Patnaik gave both Soumya Ranjan and Samanta Rajya Sabha seats just a few hours after their induction into the BJD.
As media, particularly the television channel, is likely to play important role in next year's state elections, the two national parties are keen to take Panda into their fold, at least for getting advantage from his news channel, if not for anything else, political observers say.
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