KENDRAPARA: In a major setback for BJD, its newly appointed general secretary and chairman of Derabishi block Sarojkant Sahoo along with 12 sarpanchs, 10 panchayat samiti members and other leaders joined the BJP here on Wednesday.
Sarojkant along with his supporters joined the saffron party in the presence of BJP National vice president and Kendrapara MP candidate Baijayant Panda and former Minister and the BJP’s nominee for Patkura Assembly segment Bijay Mohapatra.
A bete noire of sitting legislator and BJD’s candidate for Patkura Bed Prakash Agarwalla, Sarojkant said, “We had urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on several occasions not to renominate 84-year-old Bed Prakash from Patkura as he is bed-ridden due to old-age ailments. But he managed to get the ticket by paying a huge sum to BJD.” He alleged there is no internal democracy in BJD.
Sarojkant justified his decision of joining the BJP by saying that the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has soared after air strikes by the Indian Air Force on purported terror camps in Pakistan. He also lauded Baijayant Panda and described him as a popular leader in Kendrapara. “Baijayant will make a hat-trick by winning the Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat again,” Sarojkant said and added that Bijay Mohapatra will easily defeat Bed Prakash as the latter has not done any notable work in Patkura Assembly segment.
Mohapatra said with Sarojkant and other BJD leaders in its fold, BJP will be strengthened in Kendrapara district. “BJP supporters are jubilant after their entry in the saffron party,” he said.
However, president of Kendrapara town BJD committee Srikanta Panda said Sarojkant and his supporters have no base in Kendrapara. He said in the last General Elections, Mohapatra was defeated by BJD’s candidate Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak from Mahakalapada Assembly seat. “In the upcoming polls, Bijay is contesting against BJD’s Agarwalla. He was defeated by Agarwalla in the 2009 polls,” Panda said.
He said people of Kendrapara elected Baijayant twice from the Parliamentary constituency on a BJD ticket. “Baijayant was hobnobbing with BJP due to which he was suspended from the party. The people of Kendrapara will not vote for any BJP candidate,” Srikanta said, adding in the last polls, BJP’s candidate from Kendrapara had lost his deposit and Baijayant too will meet a similar fate.