Bhubaneswar, Sep 23 (UNI) Around 200 leaders from opposition Congress, Janata Dal(S) and regional political outfit Orissa Gana Parishad (OGP) today joined the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) with hundreds of their followers.
Prominent among the leaders were former Sonepur MLA and JD(S) president Debraj Seth, its state student wing president Amiyapandava, JD(S) general secretary Jugal Kishore Nayak and a number of leaders of OGP and Congress from Cuttack, Kendrapara, Dhenkanal, Balasore and Koraput district.
The development assumed importance as it happened a day before the planned merger of OGP and JD(S) with the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in a bid to create a viable alternative to the ruling BJD-BJP alliance.
A senior OGP leader said several dissident and former leaders of both the BJD and BJP would join the NCP tomorrow.
BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said leaving one party and joining another was normal in politics but nobody from his party would join the NCP.
Replying to a question Mr Patnaik said though his party was ready for election, the joining of the opposition political party with the BJD had nothing to do with it.
Welcoming the leaders, Mr Patnaik said his government was committed to the overall development of the state and had initiated a number of schemes for the purpose. He appealed to them to work unitedly to achieve the objective.
Party womens wing president Pramilla Mallik described the leaders, now heading the JD(S) and OGP, as 'divisive elements' and warned political activists to eliminate them politically in the coming elections.
Energy Minister S N Patro and Steel and Mines Minister P Behera also spoke on the occasion.