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Jay Panda joins BJP, hails PM Modi, Amit Shah's leadership

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Bhubaneswar, Mar 04: Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, former Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Baijayant 'Jay' Panda joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday.

Ex-BJD leader Jay Panda to join BJP today

Panda took to Twitter to announce his joining BJP, saying he had made the decision after nine months of introspection and widespread consultations with colleagues and the public.

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He joined the ruling party in the presence of Union minister and BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi.

"I admire Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah's leadership," Panda told reporters after joining the saffron party.

Panda, who fell apart with the BJD chief Naveen Patnaik, had recently said that he is willing to join hands with anybody "committed to tackling the severe problems that Odisha now faces".

Panda the suave BJD MP from Kendrapara quit the BJD last May after a bitter falling out with his party chief, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Jay Panda's troubles in the party peaked when he was suspended on "disciplinary grounds" after he openly challenged the leadership after poor performance in 2017's local polls.

The announcement about the suspension of Panda, who was said to be veering towards the BJP, was made by BJD vice-president and state minister S N Patro at a press conference.

Jay Panda had been a parliamentarian of the BJD since 2000.The switch may hurt Naveen Patnaik's party in Odisha ahead of the national and state elections, especially with the BJP making inroads into the state.

The BJD registered a comprehensive win in both the elections in 2014 with the Patnaik-led party winning 20 of the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 117 of the 147 Vidhan Sabha seats.

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