New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Senior political leader and Paradip MLA Damodar Rout joined the BJP on Thursday evening at its party office in New Delhi in the presence of party national president Amit Shah, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP Odisha in-charge Arun Singh and Baijayant Panda.
Speaking to Odisha Bytes from New Delhi earlier, he had said, “I will join BJP this evening or tomorrow morning.”
After former Kendrapara MLA Baijayant, Dama is the second former senior BJD leader to embrace the Lotus party.
While Baijant had resigned from the BJD in May, 2018, after being suspended for alleged anti-party activities in January, Dama was expelled in September that year after hundreds of BJD workers from Jagatsinghpur district met party president Naveen Patnaik at his residence and handed him written complaints against the Paradip MLA.
After the former Kendrapara MLA joined BJP, speculation has been rife in political circles about Dama and a few other former BJD leaders, including Braja Kishore Tripathy and former Gondia legislator Nabin Nanda, following suit.
After quitting BJD in the run-up to the 2009 elections, Tripathy had unsuccessfully contested from Puri Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket, only to stay away from the party later.
After being expelled from the BJD, Dama along with former Puri MP and ex-Union minister Tripathy had floated Biju Samata Kranti. The first indication of Dama joining the BJP had come after he held a discussion with Dharmendra in New Delhi last week.
In the changed political circumstances, the saffron party may use Dama, who has been a bitter critic of the party in the past, to launch tirades against the BJD leadership.
Baijayant, going by discussions in BJP circles, was made the party national vice-president and national spokesperson within days of joining as the BJP bosses believed that he could trigger a split in the BJD ranks and channelize possible dissension within the BJD to the advantage of the saffron party. He is said to be holding talks with BJD leaders who are unhappy and has convinced some of them to enter the BJP.
Names of Sambalpur’s BJD MP Nagendra Pradhan and Dhenkanal MP Tathagata Satpathy, who has announced that he would take ‘sanyas’ from politics and concentrate on journalism, are also doing the rounds as possible entrants to the BJP. While Tathagata has never indicated the possibility of his joining the BJP, Dharmendra’s recent meeting with him has fuelled speculation that something is cooking.