With a few weeks left for Lok Sabha and assembly polls and major parties busy in finalizing candidates, Aya Ram Gaya Ram culture seems to be gaining momentum in Odisha.
Many leaders, including sitting MPs and MLAs, are now changing party loyalty fearing denial of tickets or defeat in the upcoming polls. Those who had soured their relations with the state leadership are also crossing over from one party to another.
BJDs sitting MP from Nabarangpur Balabhadra Majhi left the ruling party alleging “neglect” and joined the BJP within 36 hours of resigning from the BJD.
Balabhdra quit the BJD in the backdrop of speculation about the party fielding Odishas SC & ST Development Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi as its candidate from Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat.
Two ex-BJD leaders – former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda and former minister Damodar Rout – have also joined the BJP, vowing to oust Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Panda had resigned from the ruling BJD while Rout was expelled from the ruling party long ago. They were inducted into the BJP ahead of the elections.
“I have severed 45 years of relationship with the Janata Parivar as I was expelled from the BJD for no reason. I feel the BJP has the determination to dislodge 19-year-old Naveen Patnaik government,” Rout said.
Salipur MLA of Congress Prakash Behera resigned on Saturday alleging “negligence by the state party leadership”.
Though Beheras name was cleared by the Pradesh Election Committee for becoming a candidate in 2019 polls, he quit the party ahead of elections. Behera joined the BJP in Delhi today.
Three other sitting Congress MLAs have also quit the grand old party in the run up to elections in Odisha. They are Nabakishore Das (Jharsuguda), Jogesh Singh (Sundergarh) and Krushna Chandra Sagaria (Koraput). Das and Singh joined the BJD, while Sagaria went to the Bahujan Samaj Party.
BJD MLA from Nilagiri in Balasore district Sukant Kumar Nayak also left the party alleging neglect. Sources close to him said he may join the saffron party. Nayaks resignation came after the BJD inducted Nilagiris BJP leader Sushma Biswal into the party fold.
Earlier last week, former Congress chief minister Hemananda Biswals daughter Sunita Biswal quit the party and joined the BJD after AICC general secretary Jitendra Singh announced that the party would not give more than one ticket to one family.
In an embarrassment for state BJP chief Basant Panda, his nephew joined the ruling BJD and termed his uncle as an “autocrat”. Senior BJP leader and former MLA Jitendranath Mitra has meanwhile quit the saffron party and joined the BJD.
“Leaders changing party affiliation during election time is natural. This has happened in the past also. There is nothing new in it. Individuals quitting the party will have no impact on BJDs poll prospect,” senior BJD leader and Finance Minister S B Behera said.
Meanwhile, BJPs Odisha Pravari Arun Singh claimed many BJD leaders were in touch with the BJP leadership for joining the saffron party.
According to political observers, party hopping will be witnessed in a big way after declaration of candidates list by the BJD, the BJP and the Congress.
Odisha will go to polls in four phases from April 11 to April 29.