Defections in Odisha pick up ahead of elections

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Bhubaneswar, March 16 (IANS) Leaders switching loyalties ahead of simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha have been proving a a major headache for political parties.

The state is witnessing an increasing rate of defections with politicians jumping to and from one party to another.

The defection has gained momentum as the three major political parties — the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress — are busy giving finishing touches to their final lists of candidates.

While the ruling BJD is attracting leaders from the opposition parties, BJD leaders who are unlikely to get party ticket are taking a plunge into the saffron pond.

The BJP is making serious efforts to dethrone the Naveen Patnaik government in the state.

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Sensing denial of ticket, Nabarangpur MP Balabhadra Majhi quit the BJD on March 14 and joined the BJP at its party headquarters in New Delhi on Saturday.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Majhi’s decision to join the BJP and reposing faith in the transformative governance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will further strengthen the party in Odisha, especially in the tribal-dominated areas of the state.

BJD’s Nilgiri MLA Sukanta Nayak on Friday resigned from the primary membership of the party.

Prakash Chandra Behera, a Congress MLA from Salepur constituency in the Cuttack district, resigned from the party on Saturday. He is likely to join the BJP soon.

Earlier, expelled BJD leaders Baijayant Panda and Damodar Rout joined the BJP.

At the same time, former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Hemananda Biswal’s daughter Sunita Biswal, BJP’s 2014 MLA candidate from Nilagairi Sushama Biswal, Pradeep Disari of the Congress and BJP leader from Khurda Jitu Mitra have joined the BJD.

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The BJD on Saturday inducted Harischandra Panda, nephew of BJP state President Basanta Panda.

“Uncle (Basanta Panda) is working for the party, not for the area. The BJP leadership is acting like an autocrat. That’s why I am quitting the party”, said the junior Panda.

Earlier, Congress MLAs Nab Kishore Das and Jogesh Singh joined the regional party.

On the other hand, former MLA Jagneswar Babu and former Finance Minister Panchanan Kanungo have joined the Congress.

Odisha will vote in the simultaneous Lok Sabha (21 seats) and Assembly (147 seats) polls in four phases, beginning April 11.

–IANS

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