Former BJD MP Jay Panda joins BJP

Former BJD MP Jay Panda joins BJP

Former Biju Janata Dal MP Baijayant Jay Panda greets BJP national president Amit Shah after joining the saffron party, in New Delhi, on Monday. PTI

Nine months after resigning from the BJD, former MP Baijayant 'Jay' Panda joined the BJP on Monday, giving a boost to the saffron party ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

Before joining the party in the presence of senior Odisha leaders, including Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, Panda met BJP chief Amit Shah.

Panda's joining is viewed within the BJP as a positive sign that would help the party in coastal Odisha. "Nine months of introspection and widespread consultations with colleagues and public. Grateful for support received from all over. On auspicious Maha Shivratri, I have decided to join the BJP. and work under the leadership of Narendra Modi to serve Odisha and India to the best of my ability," Panda tweeted later.

As he joined the BJP, Panda attacked the BJD for "sharp deterioration" in the state's governance under Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. At a press conference, Panda said there is a need for change in Odisha and only the BJP is capable of doing it.

Panda left the BJD after he was suspended from the party over charges of "anti-party" activities. The BJD also alleged that he was involved in money laundering, a charge denied by Panda, who also resigned from the Lok Sabha.

Meanwhile, Congress Odisha chief Niranjan Patnaik quoted a media report that suggested the former was under Income Tax Department scanner for business transactions he did in the Bahamas, and tweeted, "within a month he is the member of the BJP. Looks like Modiji and Amit Shah won't stop until they bring all the "black money" back to the BJP."

Welcoming him into the party, Pradhan said Panda's presence will immensely benefit the party. "Panda had carved a niche for himself as a parliamentarian," Pradhan said.

Panda was effusive in his praise of Modi as he said that the prime minister demonstrated that he is capable of taking extremely tough decisions, which are in the long-term interest of the country, be it in the field of economy or acting against terrorists.