In the midst of weeding out BJD leaders who allegedly tried to topple him, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday poached all four MLAs of ally NCP to shore up numbers during the most volatile period of his rule.
After talks with Patnaik, the NCP legislators — Amar Satpathy, Prasanta Nanda, Navin Nanda and Ramchandra Hansda — announced around 8.30pm that they were joining the BJD. The NCP legislative party’s merger with the BJD takes the strength of Odisha’s ruling party to 108 in the 147-member assembly.
An NCP central leader said the party would assess the development. The NCP has been an ally of the BJD since 2009, when Patnaik became CM for the third time. A “delighted” Patnaik welcomed the NCP MLAs. “They are all senior and luminary members of the assembly and good, hard working people.”
Among the new inductees, Prasanta Nanda, an Odia film personality who was earlier in BJP (BJD’s ally in the first two terms), has had a rocky relationship with Patnaik. The CM had removed him as higher education minister on charges of corruption in 2002.
Satpathy, who was leader of the NCP in the assembly, said, “There was no pre-condition for joining the BJD.”
Patnaik, who has ruled Odisha uninterrupted for 12 years, is busy setting the BJD in order following a failed coup allegedly engineered by his one-time mentor and Rajya Sabha MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra last week.