DHENKANAL: Baijayant Panda’s joining BJP has given a twist to the political scenario in Dhenkanal Assembly segment as former MLA Nabin Nanda is expected to follow suit.A close associate of Panda, the two time MLA had earlier made his intent clear on joining any party that the former Kendrapara MP moved to. He has already opened channels with the saffron party and is eyeing the ticket from the constituency.
However, the possibility of Nanda joining the party has not gone down well with the local BJP leadership and cadres. Any move to induct him and field him from the seat will face stiff opposition from the prime claimant former MLA Krushna Chandra Patra. Patra, an old guard of the BJP, was elected from the seat in 2000 but has been defeated since the BJD-BJP alliance broke in 2009. In 2014, he secured over 37 per cent vote share and was defeated by BJD candidate Saroj Samal with a narrow margin of 3,294 votes.
Nanda, who had won the seat as NCP candidate in 2009, had joined BJD in 2012 after the party merged with the regional outfit. He was not fielded in 2014. In July 2018, he was suspended from the BJD after his arrest from a spa in Kolkata, which was raided for allegedly running a sex racket.
Nanda has continued political activities in the area and had organised Panda’s meetings in the district after the latter resigned from BJD last year. Flaunting his association with Panda and his political base in the segment, he is optimistic of being given the ticket from BJP even as he has kept other options open.
If the BJP does not accede, he will move to Congress which has already offered him the ticket, he claimed.
Besides Nanda and Patra, three other aspirants former Dhenkanal Municipality chairpersons Sudhansu Dalei and Sunil Sharma, and president of State Cooperative Bank Akshya Mohanty are in the race for BJP ticket.