Odisha leader Baijayant Panda named BJP’s U.P. incharge for polls - Hindustan Times

Odisha leader Baijayant Panda named BJP’s U.P. incharge for polls

Jan 28, 2024 07:08 AM IST

The BJP has appointed Baijayant Jay Panda as the party's election in-charge for Uttar Pradesh, while Vijay Pal Singh Tomer will handle Odisha.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday named Baijayant Jay Panda, 60, as the party’s election in-charge for Uttar Pradesh, a crucial role for this leader from Odisha who holds a degree in engineering and management, a private pilot’s licence for aircraft and helicopters, besides enjoying adventure sports.

BJP’s Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda (File)
BJP’s Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda (File)

While Panda, a four-term MP, has been named for Uttar Pradesh, Meerut-based leader Vijay Pal Singh Tomer, a Rajya Sabha MP and a former head of the farmers’ wing, has been named the party’s election in-charge for Odisha. Known to spring surprises, the BJP leadership has thus effected an interesting swap of leaders for key roles in each others’ states.

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Given U.P’s importance some co-in-charges with Panda would also be named, party leaders said shortly after the announcement.

The announcements were made in the list of election in-charges and co-in-charges for 23 states released by BJP’s national general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP from UP Arun Singh on Saturday.

Tomar is among the many BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh to feature on the list. The others from U.P. on it are from former ministers Mahendra Singh and Shrikant Sharma, former Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai, former Gorakhpur lawmaker-turned-Rajya Sabha MP Radha Mohan Das Agarwal and Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Nagar. Barring Nagar, who has been named co-in-charge for Haryana, the rest of the U.P. leaders have been named in-charges.

Mahendra Singh from Lucknow has been named in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, where BJP recently retained power. Singh was earlier in-charge of Assam, a key state where the BJP won assembly polls for the first time in 2016.

Laxmikant Bajpai from Meerut has been named in-charge for Karnataka, which is among the handful of Congress-ruled states. Agarwal, who hails from Gorakhpur has been named for Jharkhand while Shrikant Sharma has been named for Himachal Pradesh, another Congress-ruled state. The moves signify Uttar Pradesh’s overall importance in BJP’s scheme of things.

From U.P’s perspective, the spotlight would be on Jay Panda, whose naming as the state-in-charge coincided with the state’s main opposition Samajwadi Party announcing that seat-sharing talks with Congress for U.P. were successful. The fast-paced developments in Bihar, where the opposition alliance was being tested, too, are likely to have their impact on Uttar Pradesh politics.

“U.P. is a crucial state and any leader that the high command picks for the state means that he is close to the party bosses. Further, being well-read and well-connected means that he will come in handy in carrying out key tasks that the leadership assigns him with,” a BJP leader said.

Panda is the second leader from Odisha to be named for a key role for the most populous state. Earlier, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan was named election in-charge for the 2022 U.P. assembly polls.

The appointment is also indicative of Panda’s growing profile within the party.

Panda was a founder leader of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the ruling party in Odisha, and a “family friend” of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik before joining the BJP. The shift led to a visible growth in his profile within the BJP. Since joining the party, he has served as the in-charge for Assam and Delhi as well as Mahila Morcha.

“I welcome the announcement and I am confident that along with him we will surely win all 80 Lok Sabha seats,” U.P. BJP chief Bhupendra Chaudhary posted on social media.

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    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based Senior Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write offbeat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans, but also from newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn.

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