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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Bijoy Mohapatra, after Amit Shah’s phone call, set to rejoin Odisha BJP

BJP sources said Mohapatra is likely to contest from Patkura under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency from where BJP’s national vice-president Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is the candidate.

india Updated: Mar 28, 2019 15:35 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
BJP sources said Mohapatra is likely to contest from Patkura under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency from where BJP’s national vice-president Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is the candidate.
BJP sources said Mohapatra is likely to contest from Patkura under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency from where BJP’s national vice-president Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is the candidate.(Bloomberg)
         

The Bharatiya Janata Party in Odisha on Thursday got a shot in the arm after veteran leader Bijoy Mohapatra, who had resigned from the party last year, decided to come back to the saffron party.

Mohapatra, who had left the party along with former union minister Dilip Ray in November 2018 over the way they were treated, said he decided to rejoin to bring about a change in Odisha. He is expected to rejoin the party tomorrow (Friday).

“Amit Shah spoke to me over the phone. Odisha in-charge Arun Singh visited me. We will work together for the development of the country putting aside all the old differences. With elections round the corner, we are committed to bring about a parivartan (change) in Odisha,” said Mohapatra, who while quitting the BJP had said that he would no longer “continue in the party as a showpiece”.

In their joint resignation letter, Mohapatra and Ray had alleged that “certain egocentric self-servicing individuals resorted to dirty tricks and a campaign was launched in respective constituencies”.

BJP sources said Mohapatra is likely to contest from Patkura under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency from where BJP’s national vice-president Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda is the candidate. Panda said for the development of Odisha and the country, he had requested Mohapatra to “let bygones be bygones”. Fighting on the BJP ticket, Mohapatra had lost the 2014 election from Mahakalapada assembly constituency and had lost to BJD’s Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak by a narrow margin.

BJP general secretary and Odisha in-charge Arun Singh said Mohapatra’s inclusion will boost the party’s poll prospects. “Our party’s Lok Sabha candidate Jay Panda is certain to win the election by much better margin than during the last polls and create a record in Kendrapara,” he said.

After his resignation from the BJP, Mohapatra was trying to get into the BJD, along with his trusted friend Dilip Ray. Though CM Naveen Patnaik agreed to induct Ray and send him to the Rajya Sabha, he was unwilling on the return of his bete noire Mohapatra. Ray has not joined any party.

Mohapatra, a long-time aide of former chief minister Biju Patnaik and one of the founder members of the BJD, was unceremoniously ousted from the party just before the 2000 assembly elections when party president Naveen Patnaik cancelled his nomination as candidate from Patkura assembly seat. With around an hour left for the deadline for nomination to expire, Patnaik sent in Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak as the party candidate.

A devastated Mohapatra then supported Trilochan Behera of the Trinamool, who went on to win. But Behera ditched him as he joined the BJD few days later. He then formed the Odisha Gana Parishad in 2001 which was later merged with the Nationalist Congress Party. He, however, quit the party in protest before the 2009 elections after NCP chief Sharad Pawar decided to ally with the BJD.

In 2010, he joined the BJP and was made a member of its national executive, but was sidelined after union minister Dharmendra Pradhan strengthened his grip over the state unit in Odisha.

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 15:34 IST