Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda, nicknamed Jay Panda, has finally joined the Bharatiya Janata party. Since he was suspended from Biju Janata Dal – of which he was a member for nearly two decades. In January 2018 for “activities against the party”, it was presumed that, given his closeness to the MP Baijayant Panda, he joins the BJP at one time or another.
It finally took more than a year for Panda, the largest industrialist in the east of the country, to take the plunge. Political observers in the state say the delay was probably caused by two reasons.
First, soon after Panda was suspended from BJD, he would have been attentive to the main ministerial position and would have put pressure on BJP leaders to present him as the party’s face during the 2019 assembly polls – which must be held at the same time as the parliamentary polls. . However, at that time, the party’s president, Amit Shah, had already appointed Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Union, to head the BJP in Odisha.
Pradhan, who himself does not have much mass support and is currently a member of Madhya Pradesh in Rajya Sabha, is one of Shah’s favourites.
The second reason is more conspiratorial and has been put forward by critics of the BJD who, like the Congress, believe that the government led by Naveen Patnaik is actually “remotely controlled” by the Union government. They think the chief minister was so angry with Panda that he would have negotiated with the BJP leaders to end the induction of the former BJD leader into the saffron party.