Baijayant Panda to test waters from Kendrapara, this time on a BJP ticket
New Delhi, Mar 22: For Baijayant Panda the Lok Sabha seat that he would contest from remains constant. Panda had left the BJD in Odisha to join the BJP.
He would contest the election from the Kendrapara seat, which he had won on a BJD ticket in 2014. Panda had vacated the seat before resigning from the BJD. His name was announced in the BJP's first list of 184 candidates on Thursday.
Panda is a four-time Lok Sabha member. He had won the Kenrapara seat in 2009 and 2014. Incidentally, the Kendrapara seat has been a BJD stronghold since 1998.
Panda quit the BJD after a bitter falling out with Odisha Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik. He had been cozying up to the BJP, which has been looking to make major inroads in the state.
Panda after joining the BJP was appointed as the Vice President of the party in the state. Winning Kendrapara would be crucial for the BJP, which currently holds just one seat in the state. Jual Oram of the BJP represents the Sundargarh seat in Odisha.
Panda has been one of the most prominent leaders of the BJD in the state. He has been a parliamentarian since 2000. The BJP hopes to make major inroads in the state with the help of Panda. In 2014, the BJP had won just one of the 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
However the party has emerged as a major challenger to the BJD following the local body elections.