After cracking the whip to stamp out dissidence in the party, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik bolstered his position further when all the four MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) joined the Biju Janata Dal (BJD).
The NCP MLAs met Naveen at Naveen Nivas on Tuesday and joined the party. The MLAs included two former ministers in the Naveen ministry, Amar Prasad Satpathy and Prashant Nanda, besides Nabin Nanda and Ramchandra Hansdah.
Satpathy, a former BJD leader, was the Minister of State for Agriculture in the Naveen ministry from March 6, 2000 to August 6, 2002.
As a BJP leader, Prashant Nanda was also a Minister of State in Naveen Ministry from March 6, 2000 to July 9, 2001 and handled Higher Education and Rural Development portfolios.
The NCP Legislature Party (NCPLP) merged with the BJD Legislature Party (BJDLP) giving rise to realignment of political forces in the State after the failed attempt to dethrone the Chief Minister. NCP State unit general secretary Sushanta Choudhury also joined the BJD.
Naveen said the merger will strengthen the Biju Parivar further. “I am delighted that very senior leaders of NCP, including four MLAs, came to Naveen Nivas and joined the ruling BJD,” Naveen told mediapersons after a marathon meeting with the leaders of Sharad Pawar-led party. “The leaders are well known, very hard working and good people,” he said.
“We, the four NCP MLAs, today at an emergency meeting, unanimously decided to join BJD. This is like homecoming for all four of us,” Satpathy told reporters in presence of Naveen and other senior leaders of the BJD. Satpathy said there was no pre-condition for joining the BJD.
Hansdah said the offer for merger came from the Chief Minister’s side. The decision to join the BJD was taken after a thorough discussion among all the four MLAs. Stating that the national party always ignored the State unit, Hansdah said recently the State unit’s decision to support former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma in the presidential race was also rejected. Leader of the NCP Legislature Party Amar Prasad Satpathy told mediapersons after the merger that it was a true homecoming for them.
The four MLAs met Speaker Pradip Amat in his Assembly chamber and handed over the papers to complete the formalities. The NCP had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections with seat arrangement with the BJD.
The State Congress, however, has strongly criticised the NCP legislators’ move, alleging that it amounted to betrayal of the national party.
Sources said more heads are likely to roll from the ministry after the sacking of Sarada Prasad Nayak before the expected reshuffle in the wake of the aborted attempt to topple the Naveen Government.